Concord Grapes - Bunches!
I bought a basket of concord grapes (they're small and sweet) on a whim. Now I don't know how to use them. I don't usually make jams/jellies. Any other suggestions?
Otherwise, how's the ease factor in making grape jelly?
You can make pie. If you google Concord grape pie you'll find many recipes online. Most involve removing the skins and cooking the pulp down. David Lebovitz has a recipe for this in one of his books, I think it's his Ripe for Dessert, which uses the skins in the pie, but removes the seeds. I think either is a fair amount of work but I'm told the pie is memorable.
I'm thinking of making David Lebovitz' version later when our Concord grapes are ripe. Usually we just leave them to be eaten by birds and local wildlife but they look better and better each year.
Concord grape jelly is supposed to be very good, but I find it too sweet for my taste. You still have to get rid of skin and seeds but it should gel fairly easily.
Definately a pie!! I just made the one from RLBs Pie and Pastry Bible. It was so good that my sister deemed it the best dessert she has ever had. That is a huge compliment. It is extremely memorable.
I use two baskets per pie. Oh and I used about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of orange oil. (You could use about a tablespoon of orange zest.)
It is a perfect secret ingredient.
Grape Jelly is easy to make and if you need a recipe I will post one.
What we like to do is make Grape Fruit Leather. Fruit Leather is actually an ancient way to preserve fruit. My Armenian grandmother used to make a candy called pastegh, which called for spreading thickened fruit juice on a piece of heavy cotton muslin. The juice was left on the table to dry overnight, then hung from the clothesline for another day of drying.
To make 1 sheet of fruit leather, about 12" x 17"
2 cups fruit
2 tablespoons sweetener, or to taste (optional)
Flavoring extract to taste (optional)
Cut fruit into chunks and puree in blender or food processor until smooth.
Pour through a strainer to remove any skin or seeds. Stir in sweetener and flavoring, if desired.
Preheat oven to lowest possible temperature.
Line a 12" x 17" baking sheet unbleached parchment paper or silicone baking sheet. If you think you are going to want to store the finished fruit leather, use the parchment paper, as you can then just roll it up for storage.
Pour the pureed fruit on the baking sheet and spread it around almost to the edges. I've found the best way to do this is by tilting the pan or using an offset spatula, such as the type you would use to spread frosting.
Bake for 4 to 6 hours until the fruit sheet is dry enough not to stick to your fingers but moist enough to roll. Be sure to test for doneness in the center of the pan. It is done when you can touch the fruit and your finger leaves no indentation. Remove from oven and cool. If you overbake and it gets crispy, don't worry. Just leave it out in the pan it will absorb moisture from the air to become leathery again.
When fruit is cool, cut into desired size with a knife or pizza cutter or just rip off a piece with your hands.
If you don't eat it all right away, you can store fruit leather in an airtight container for 30 days at room temperature, and up to one year tightly wrapped in the freezer. Place each piece of fruit leather on parchment paper and roll it up.
re: Chris VR
This might work better with peaches, and you can let it air dry. You have to get the juice from the peaches first
8 cups grape juice or other fruit juice
1 cup flour
Heat 2 cups of the grape juice until lukewarm. Add the flour to the warm grape juice and mix well. Bring the rest of the grape juice to a boil and add the flour mixture slowly and stirring constantly until the mixture begins to bubble. Spread a sheet muslin or plastic wrap on a flat surface and pour the mixture out evenly to a layer of about 1/8 inch. Let this dry for about 12 hours. Peel the muslin or plastic wrap off the surface and hang like a sheet from a line and let dry for 24 more hours. Spray the backside of the muslin [not plastic wrap] lightly with water to release the bastegh from the muslin. Powder the bastegh with cornstarch, cut into strips and roll up and store in a jar.
NOTE: This can be made with other fruit juices.
I made Concord grape pie this past weekend using David Lebovitz's recipe from Room for Dessert. The grapes came from our own backyard. We think they're Concord from their distinctive aroma, but they're larger and more reddish than the ones I've seen for sale. They have the same thick skins which slip off easily and large seeds.
We cut the grapes in half and seeded them. This is very tedious. For the 4-5 lbs of grapes it probably took about 2 hours for two of us to seed all of them.
The recipe is very simple. For 2 cups of grapes, add 1/2 cup sugar and 3.5 Tbs tapioca starch. My grapes were on the tart side so I added an extra 1/4 cup sugar. I use 12" pie pans so each pie is about twice the volume of a standard 8" pie.
The pie bubbled over making an awful mess of the stove. But the first taste of that syrup convinced me that all the hassle was worth it. It's intensely flavorful, sweet-tart and wonderfully perfumed. The closest taste I can think of is sour cherry pie. DH had 3 pieces last night before I put it away.
If anyone wants a different dessert pie, try using Concord grapes.
If you can find a copy of Claudia Fleming's "The last Course", there is a recipe in there for Concord Grape Focaccia with Rosemary. It looks really good.