What to do with concord grapes: Conserve and Grape Pie

Our first house, a log home in Ft. Collins, Colorado, had grapes growing out back by the car port. They were concord grapes, which are intensely flavorful—most known for grape juice—but not terrific as table grapes. My grandfather favored a grape pie, and I’m sharing the recipe here. The pie has an extremely intense flavor. Doug and I turned our harvest into grape conserve, which was my first try at production scale canning. Our friend Joyce was visiting and we put her to work, helping to cook the grapes, run them through the food mill, slice the fruit and can the conserve. The resulting conserve is wonderfully tart and complex, and really terrific on a biscuit.

Concord Grape Conserve (makes about 3 half-pint jars)

  • 2 lbs. concord grapes (to make 1-3/4 c. pulp)
  • 1-3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 medium lemon, cut off the ends, slice very thin, cut into quarters
  • 1 small orange, cut off the ends, slice very thin, cut into quarters
  • 1/4 c. raisins (optional)

Wash the grapes (wash them very well if they are not organic), and remove the stems. Place the grapes in a saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of water. Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the seeds come free from the grapes. Run the grapes through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds, leaving you with the pulp. Clean out your saucepan. Measure the pulp, return to the pan, and add an equivalent amount of sugar.  Add the lemon and orange slices, and raisins if you like. Cook into the mixture becomes slightly thick and dark, and sheets off the spoon. Place into hot, sterilized jars, water process for 10 minutes.

Papa’s Favorite Grape Pie

  • 1 quart concord grapes
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. grated orange rind
  • 2 Tbs. tapioca
  • graham cracker crust

Wash and stem the grapes, cook over medium heat until the seeds come loose. Run through a food mill, discarding stems and peels. Combine grape pulp with remaining ingredients and pour into a prepared graham cracker crust, then chill until set. Serve with whipped cream.

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