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Have a lot of concord grapes. Good ideas? And tips?

I just came back from visiting family with a big garden and they had a LOT of very ripe concord grapes. Which I love.

So I've come home with a lot of them.

What are some good ideas? Some of my books have recipes, like a concord grape sorbet. A parfait mixed with some panna cotta, a tart. Any other good thoughts?

I was thinking of cooking the grapes (because they're ripe now and I don't think they are going to keep long) and putting through a food mill and then freezing for uses down the road. Does that make sense? I had tried putting raw concords through a food mill a long time ago and the mill just crunched the seeds. I later gathered that the idea is to cook them first to soften the seeds before putting them through the mill to prevent them from crunching into bits and going through the mill. Is that right?

Also, what about using vitamin C to keep the colors bright. Does citric acid also work? Any recommendations?

Specific recipes?

Thanks much!

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  1. Find a recipe for grape pie -- amazing! I also like a grape sauce with chicken or duck. I think a puree would freeze fine -- I don't think you need anything to preserve the grape color.

    1. I added roasted grapes to a salad of mixed baby lettuce and/or arugula with shaved red onion, halved grape or cherry tomatoes and sliced seedless cucumbers. I also added some oven crispy proscuitto shards & toasted cornbread croutons to the salad. OMG!! And I made a vinaigrette to go with it using some of the roasted grapes, roasted shallot, champagne vinegar, and oil. It was a beautiful salad, especially if you use arugula. The peppery flavor goes well with the sweetness of the grapes and the slight saltiness of the ham.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Cherylptw

        Concord grapes have seeds that stubbornly cling to the pulp, so they are not appropriate for the dish you suggest.

        If you cook the grapes, then strain out the seeds, you can freeze or can the juice. It makes for delicious home-made jello.

        IMO Concords are most delicious eaten out of hand, in private, where no one sees you sucking the pulp from the seeds and spitting them out. BTW I now have a few volunteer vines in the shrubs near my house, several years after putting extra Concord grapes out for the birds and squirrels.

        1. re: greygarious

          Sorry to disagree with you but you CAN HALF the grapes to remove the seeds then roast..I made the dish, I think i know if it works..

          1. re: Cherylptw

            If you used Concord grapes, my hat's off to you! HALVING Concords, which are about half the size of Thompsons and most other table grapes, and freeing the seeds from the clinging pulp, is something I'll put on my to-do list, right after I make hand-pulled Asian noodles, and puff pastry from scratch! :-P

            1. re: greygarious

              My initial response was to the OP but if you want to fit it in, by all means do so

              1. re: greygarious

                The Concords I'm currently working with are actually twice the size of table grapes, about as big around as a quarter. Halving and seeding them for Cheryl's recipe would be no problem at all. Halving and seeding enough of them for a canning project would be a pain in the ass. That said, I scalded and peeled enough currant tomatoes (the size of a dime or smaller) for 10 pints of herbed tomatoes earlier this summer. It all depends on your inspiration/desire/anal/zen sensibilities.

            2. re: greygarious

              Once again, I'm with greygarious on this one. I can't imagine a pile of concords too big to finish out of hand.

          2. This grape focaccia looks unique and tasty:

            Also, regular grapes are great frozen as is, uncooked -- I wonder how Concord grapes would be frozen? Regular grapes taste like popsicles when you freeze them, and Concord grapes already taste like popsicles, so I bet they would be good.

            1. I used to freeze concord grape "puree" all the time - though it has been a few years. (It's such a major production - I'd usually freeze enough for a couple of years. That, and when I'm picking fruit, I just have trouble knowing when to stop!)

              Remove the skins from the grapes (pinch them at the end opposite the stem); set them aside. Put the pulp into a heavy pan, bring it to a boil, and let it boil 5 minutes or so. Put it through a food mill to remove the seeds. Pour the hot pulp over the skins and let the mixture sit for (for at least a couple of hours if you're using it right away). This colors the pulp and makes it pretty. I think it also adds a bit of flavor and, obviously, texture. You can chop the skins a bit when you add them back to the pulp, but I don't usually.

              I usually freeze in quarts - it's just about the perfect size for pies or jams - grape pie is a favorite in these parts (upstate NY)!

              I would caution against freezing in a whole bunch in zip-loc bags, then trying to carry too many at once. A burst bag of grape puree in a freshly painted kitchen - not a pretty sight. . .

              1. Nobody's mentioned Concord grape jelly?

                1 Reply
                1. re: sunshine842

                  MY mother used to make Concord grape jam and freeze the jars. What a treat to open a jar of September in January. I wish I had paid attention to how she went about it, but I do remember her cooking the grapes with sugar and short stems then pressing the result in a strainer.

                2. We're having a bountiful Concord grape harvest here and while I don't have my own vines, flats from friends have been showing up like zucchinis left in unlocked cars and hanging from the front door latch! I canned (or you can freeze it) juice and then milled the pulp, spiced it with cinnamon and cardamon to taste, and dried it into fruit leather. Just received another sh**load of them yesterday and I think I'm going to juice them for jelly and again dry the pulp for leather. The grand- and neighbor kids love fruit leathers and anything I preserve that has leftover pulp becomes leathers for the kids.
                  If you have one of those Squeezo type food mills, the grape spiral is a good investment for juicing grapes if you don't want to use the pulp. If you want to make leathers (or butters), heating and juicing the grapes is the easier route to go when it comes to separating the seeds from the pulp. A regular food mill does a great job then although the seeds have a tendency to jump out of the mill like popcorn.
                  I don't add anything like vitamin C or citric acid. I've never noticed a degradation of the color. Grapes have lots of their own acid and I find that letting the juice settle over night and then siphoning it off the sediment before using allows the tartaric acid to filter down to the bottom. Tartaric acid can cause crystallization in grape juices and jellies. Doing this also removes traces of bitter tastes and I find no need to sweeten the juice I can for drinking.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: morwen

                    morwen -- I had never heard of squeezos and looked into them a bit. I can see how they would be great for grapes. just sqeeze to press everything through the sieve. They are expensive on ebay at this time of year but I bet they will be quite a bit cheaper in a few months after harvest season. But how do the grape spirals work? I've seen a picture but can't visualize how they operate?

                    1. re: karykat

                      I don't have one myself, but I've watched a friend's. The spiral pushes the grapes through the tube in a way that the skins, seeds, and pulp don't clog up the process like it would if they were "grated" using the tomato screen, and also it doesn't grind the seeds. The grape spiral seems to be a standard attachment for traditional fruit presses as well (the kind that are used for pressing apples). Squeezo clones can be had for much cheaper than the Squeezos go for. Our local hardware store has a clone for $70 with the different screens and a spiral. Can't say if they are as durable, I just know they're out there. I've been holding off buying one because we're considering buying a cider press which can also be used for grapes. Right now the neighborhood has one that we use for "pressing & potluck parties", but the parties have gotten so large that we need a second one.

                      I just did an experiment yesterday and today with the latest case of grapes that showed up. Previously I was dumping them into the pot and mashing them with a potato masher to juice them but I noticed that a lot of the grapes just slipped their skins and weren't releasing the juice. Even when running the pulp through a food mill after collecting the juice, the whole skinless grapes would not mash. So this time I put the grapes in the pot, mashed them and then took the stick blender to them. After they cooked and dripped I got half again as much juice as before. I put the pulp in a bowl and again took the stick blender to that before milling it and got at least twice as much pulp for leather. I didn't see any ground up or partial seeds in the pulp when I spread it out on the drying trays.

                  2. Ok -- you've given me some good ideas. I'm going to start in with the pinch the skin off first method, then heat the pulp, then put through the food mill. I have some apprehension about the seeds crunching with that last step, but am going to go for it. Will freeze what I get.

                    Also thinking about hauling out my canning pot for jelly and jam.

                    It is a lot of work -- but so worth it.

                    Any more ideas welcomed!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: karykat

                      Here's an idea off the beaten track--crush, ferment and press as with a wine. Keep the wine only if you like it, but use the pomace in your cooking.

                      1. re: karykat

                        I've made concord grape pies a few times and in my experience once the pulp has been boiled a few minutes you will be able to simply push it through a sieve to separate out the seeds-- I don't think you need a food mill for that task at all. I just keep squishing it with a wooden spoon and all the slimy/liquidy pulp makes its way through, leaving nothing but seeds behind. Concord grape pie is a must-make, though. So good.

                      2. Today's NY Times:

                        Check the first recipe on the sidebar for "Boozy Grapes."

                        1. Thanks for all the fantastic ideas. I've processed all the grapes. It took a goodly long time but it was easier to food mill them and more effective than I thought it would be. I have the makings of 6 cobblers or pies in the freezer, which will be a wonderful treat in the dead of winter. I may see about making a mini batch of jam from one of my containers. I also froze some grapes whole to try those as little snacks as suggested.

                          Thanks everybody. Now that I have all these ideas and have tried the food mill trick, I think I may be showing up at my aunt's doorstep at this time of the year on a routine basis! (They have so many and don't want them to go to waste.)

                          1. My husband and I have concords everywhere! The best idea we've come up with is to simmer the grapes on low until it starts to steam. Using a potato masher helps loosen skins and seeds while stirring. Do not let them boil!!! Then we use a potato ricer that gives us the juice and takes the skins and seed out. If anyone has a better way, we would LOVE to know your secret!

                            1. It's about that time of year when my grandmother would send us out to battle with the yellow jackets over Concord grapes in her backyard when we were kids. She'd (we'd) end up with a sink FULL (or more of grapes). WE were in charge of picking grapes off the stems... luckily exactness was NOT a priority since they ended up thru straner and food mill eventually.

                              She's cook them in a BIG pot till skins released and got soft. Then all that juice (only a touch of water needed to get pot started) would be strained off and back into big pot. All the pulp/skins went thru her trusty Foley foodmill (which I still have and occasionally use) and that juice went back into pot. Then whole thing simmered & reduced a bit.

                              It was pretty SOUR, but with a few spoons of sugar made the most WONDERFUL REAL GRAPE JUICE I've ever tasted. She'd add a LOT of sugar as she simmered it down till it was "done". She didn't use any packaged pectin stuff, just kinda KNEW the consistency was right. Guess it wasn't really a "jelly", but more like a jam. She'd top jars with a layer of melted paraffin and jars sat on a shelf till used. A piece of regular white toast, slathered with butter and THAT grape "jelly"... heaven!

                              1. Concords make the most delicious juices and jellies. If you use a steam juicer you can eliminate the boiling, food milling and jelly bagging.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Susangria

                                  what's a steam juicer? i have loads of grapes and love grape juice!

                                  1. re: bluemooncooks

                                    It's a three-sectioned contraption that resembles a stock pot. The bottom vessel holds the water for steaming, the second stacked vessel has a chimney in the center where the steam rises and a donut shaped outer ring to collect the juice from the fruit along with a long tube that can be inserted into jars to bottle, and the top vessel actually holds all the fruit, with steam holes around the perimeter so juice falls into the collection area but not back into the bottom water vessel.

                                    With grapes I just pile them in whole, stems and all. Larger, harder fruits I will cut or quarter. You can even mix fruits, though some fruits will release their juices before others. It's nice in the fact that nothing needs to be strained.

                                    Here is a link to just one on Amazon: