Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Tell DeLores to bring lots of grape salad November 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Vintage plastic grapes on a vintage food tray, used here for illustration purposes only.

Vintage plastic grapes on a vintage food tray, used here for illustration purposes only.

ALRIGHT, MINNESOTANS, it’s time to tell the other side of the story, to balance the “I’ve never heard of Grape Salad” to the “I have and I prepare it for my family and they love it.”

Just a little background for those who are unaware: The New York Times recently published an article listing Thanksgiving dinner foods that best represent each state. Grape Salad was selected for Minnesota, evoking the wrath of many a native. Most of us have never heard of the salad and don’t consider it at all representative of our state.

But then along come several Minnesota Prairie Roots readers, including DeLores Johnson from Belview in my native Redwood County, MN., who have, indeed, heard of Grape Salad and prepared it.

The salad is so popular with DeLores’ extended family that they ask for it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. The request is the same each holiday: “Tell DeLores to bring lots of Grape Salad.”

She first made the salad about 10 years ago after discovering the recipe in a newspaper (but not the local The Redwood Falls Gazette). Having never heard of Grape Salad until then, DeLores thought it worth a try although she hesitated to reveal sour cream as one of the four ingredients.

But her family loved the salad. Her grandchildren even argue over who gets the last little bit in the bowl, claims DeLores. She doubles the recipe. It’s apparently that good.

DeLores terms Grape Salad as “delicious” and says people from all over have called her for the recipe. “I never knew it would be such a hit,” she says.

One year, when grapes were especially expensive, DeLores nearly didn’t prepare Grape Salad. But because she knew the kids would be disappointed, she bought what she needed and the grapes cost more than the meat.

No wonder she tells her grandkids Grape Salad is special because it’s made with lots of love.

So there you have it. That’s DeLores’ Grape Salad story and she’s sticking to it.

HERE’S THE RECIPE for Grape Salad, direct from DeLores:

Red or green seedless grapes (DeLores emphasizes seedless; one year she bought the wrong grapes and spent a lot of time cutting grapes in half to remove seeds.)
1 cup brown sugar
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces Cool Whip

Mix the dressing and then add the grapes. Enjoy.

TIPS: For Christmas, DeLores sometimes buys red and green grapes to make a more colorful holiday salad. Grape Salad can be prepared a day in advance, refrigerated and stirred just prior to serving.

FACT:  When DeLores was growing up, the only grapes she had available to her were wild grapes like those used to make jelly.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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32 Responses to “Tell DeLores to bring lots of grape salad”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    My recipe/prep is even simpler! Grapes (seedless….green is what my MIL always used but we prefer red), sour cream and brown sugar. Wash grapes and remove from stems. Dry well. Place in mixing bowl and add sour cream (if very stiff a bit of milk may be added) to coat well. At this point this may be refrigerated til needed. Place a serving in individual bowls and sprinkle with brown sugar to taste. The sugar will melt and give a caramel sweetness to the dessert. Refreshing on a hot summer day.
    Using the broiler to caramelize the sugar would be a festive alternative (aka Creme Brulee).

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Good for Delores! It is always nice to hear “the rest of the story”.

  3. Ema Jones Says:

    Can I use coconut sugar instead of this sugar?

  4. I have to admit that it does sound pretty good.

  5. Jackie Says:

    Sounds kind of good, Never had it but maybe someday I will. I bet it would be yummy for summer picnic 🙂

  6. DeLores Johnson Says:

    Thanks Audrey! Enjoyed the article.

  7. I skip the Cool Whip and just use the sour cream and brown sugar. A bit of toasted coconut and a drizzle of Kahlua and you have yourself one killer dessert. Won’t it be funny if grape salad ends up ultimately becoming a popular MInnesota dish after all?
    http://silverinthebarn.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/grape-salad/

  8. Jocelyn Says:

    Per the NYT article, the grape salad is suppose to be broiled prior to serving. The cold version sounds more appetizing.

  9. Virginia Updegrove Says:

    Audrey, love getting your posts. I ran across your blog as I was doing Swedish research in your area. Now I’d like to come up to your area from Tucson sometime. To make things even more interesting, I do photography for LIGA The Flying Doctors of Mercy that have a couple clinics in Mexico. One of our dentists lives in Stillwater during the summer and AZ in the winter. Finding this out was even more interesting to me as I’d just finished reading Vilhelm Moberg’s books. Two and a half years ago I went to Sweden to retrace my grandmothers footsteps. That was a most remarkable trip.

    I’d love to share with you my last video of my trip to Mexico with LIGA. By the way, the grape salad sounds great. Gini

    • Gini, how wonderful to hear how you found Minnesota Prairie Roots and that you hope to visit Minnesota. I’d suggest waiting until spring, unless you really enjoy winter.

      I’m not familiar with the LIGA The Flying Doctors of Mercy, but it sounds like a great group.

      I will contact you shortly.

  10. Lanae Says:

    Don’t bring it for Christmas, you may be the only one eating it.

  11. Ted Aaberg Says:

    My mom use to make something similar with cut up chunks of apple for a salad for Christmas. It had whipped cream, cut up dates, small sections of apples, and pieces of walnuts. We had it every Christmas. One could use honey crisp apples, since they have a Minnesota origin.

  12. Well, I stand on the side of, No grape salad please! I like just plain grapes…don’t put sour cream on mine!

    Also all the news stations that beat this story to death, didn’t use the whip cream….that seems an addition to DeLores’ recipe. I’m sure that’s the reason it’s so delicious!

    At least it had people talking and laughing!

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Stacey


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