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Sweeten Up Your Season With Concord Grapes

Sweeten Up Your Season With Concord Grapes

Among the bounty of fruits that are at their peak during the autumn harvest season is the Concord grape. Closely related to the wild grapes native to parts of New England, Concord grapes were first produced in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull on his Concord, Mass. farm. Concord grapes are larger and sweeter than wild grapes, but smaller and more intensely flavored than most other varieties of commercially sold grapes. The skin is typically dark blue to purple, with a light, powdery “bloom” on the surface that can be rubbed off. Concord grapes are a “slip-skin” variety, which means that the skin can be easily separated from the fruit. They contain large seeds, which should be removed before eating or baking. You can enjoy Concord grapes on their own, bake with them, or turn them into juices, wines, or jellies. Here are a few recipes to get you started:

Concord Grape Pie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 rounded tablespoon sugar
1 rounded teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup frozen vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

3 cups Concord grapes
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoon flour
Dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons butter

For crust, combine flour, sugar and salt in food processor, and pulse to blend. Add butter and shortening and cut into flour mixture. When the mixture resembles coarse meal, transfer it to a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the cider vinegar with four tablespoons of ice water. Pour over flour mixture. Stir with fork until moist clumps form, adding an additional two tablespoons ice water if necessary. Separate dough into two balls, and flatten them into disks. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Slip skins from grapes. Bring pulp to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Press through sieve to remove seeds. Add skins. Mix sugar, flour, salt, and lemon peel together, and add the grape pulp. Place one pie crust into a 9″ pie pan and pour in the grape mixture. Lay several small pieces of butter over the filling and cover with the top crust. Bake at 400 for about 45 minutes.

Concord Grape Bread

1 cup Concord grapes
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup walnuts and/or coconut

Remove grapes from stems and wash. Slip skins from grapes and set them aside. Bring pulp to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Press through sieve to remove seeds. Add skins to pulp, and place in a blender for a few seconds. Bring grapes to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Mix together 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch until well blended. Add this mixture and the lemon juice to the grape pulp and bring to a boil again. Cook for 5 minutes until thick. Allow to cool. Add eggs, oil, 2 cups sugar, and vanilla. Sift together the dry ingredients and add them to the grape mixture. Stir until moistened. Fold in nuts and/or coconut. Pour into two greased and floured 9″ x 5″ bread pans. Bake at 350° for approximately one hour.

Concord Grape Jelly

3 1/2 pounds Concord grapes
1/2 cup Water
7 cups Sugar
1 package (3 oz size) liquid pectin

Sort and wash grapes, remove stems, and place in a Dutch oven. Crush grapes and add water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Press mixture through a jelly bag or cheesecloth, and extracting four cups of juice. Cover the juice and let it sit overnight in a cool place. Strain the juice through a double thickness of damp cheesecloth. Combine juice and sugar in a large Dutch oven, and stir well. Place over high heat; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a rapid boil. Add pectin, and bring to a full rolling boil; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and skim off foam with a metal spoon. Quickly pour hot mixture into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims clean and cover immediately with metal lids, and screw on bands. Process in a boiling-water bath 5 minutes. Carefully remove jars from water to cool.

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  • Frutero says:

    To my knowledge, seedless Concords are smaller than seeded, but nutritionally similar. They are slightly more heat-tolerant than the ones with seeds, and can be grown in Zone 9, if the soil is right (most labruscas like somewhat acidic soils, and if blue hydrangeas grow naturally in your area, you can grow labruscas).

  • Brian D. says:

    Does anyone know if the seedless varieties are less healthy?

  • If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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