Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sustainable Saturday - The Goodness and Pride of a Grape Pie

Grape pie, oh my.

You've heard of apple pie, strawberry/rhubarb pie, peach pie, pecan pie, and blueberry pie. Everyone has their favorite recipe for pie and many regions of our country have a pie that represents them.

For parts of upstate New York, our local pie of pride is grape pie, made with Concord grapes.

Yes, Concord Grapes.  Those grapes, the grapes you find in concord grape jelly and grape juice and yes, certain types of very sweet wine.  But, commercial varieties of those products don't always reveal the true taste of the concord grape.  (I never tasted "true" grape jelly until I was about 14 years old - and then, never went back to the commercial type.)

For that, and a grape pie, you need fresh Concord grapes, which are available in many farmers markets here in the Binghamton, New York area at this time of year.  These grapes can be more expensive than supermarket grapes but they are a native heirloom.  Support your local grape farmer!

Concord grapes were developed, in 1849, from a wild, North American grape.  I am not any kind of grape expert, but I do know there were problems with disease affecting European grapes that the early settlers tried to grow.  The Concord grape, developed in Concord, Massachusetts escaped those problems because of their native American heritage, plus they matured relatively early, perfect for escaping the first frosts.

In 1869, a New Jersey dentist, Dr.Welch, developed a bottled unfermented grape juice, using the then new process of pasteurization.

Some people do not enjoy eating these grapes fresh, because they have a very tart skin, but I love them. I find the texture of the grape inside to be something like muscadine, but more bursting in flavor (and smaller, too). If I start eating a bunch, I can't stop.

I don't worry too much, because Concord grapes are high in nutrition and low in calories.  They are high in polyphenol, an antioxidant.  They contain vitamin C, calcium and phosphorus. One cup of concord grapes, according to online sources, contains 62 calories. As they are a good natural source of oxalates, these sources warn that people prone to kidney stones should watch intake of Concord grapes. (Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.)

Since the initial grapes, a seedless variety (smaller than the original) has been developed, but both varieties were for sale yesterday at the downtown Binghamton farmers market.

In fact, I love fresh Concord grapes so much I never get around to making grape pie.  I'm not that good of a pie baker, anyway.

Oh yes, the grape pie of my title.

If you really want to eat pie, go to the Naples, New York grape festival next weekend in Naples, New York.  If you can't make it to Naples, or other local farm stands, you may want to try this recipe.

Or, even better, go to the Cayuga Lake Creamery in Interlaken, New York, for their Grape Ice Cream.

Does your area of the world have a favorite pie?


  1. This post is so timely, Alana! My brother has a vineyard and he has a row of Concord grapes and (huzzah) he is out of state during this time, and (further happiness) his Concord grapes need picking! So my kidlets and I are going to bike to his house later today and pick to our hearts' content. Now I have all kinds of ideas for what to do with the grapes. Grape pie . . . grape ice cream! Wow!

  2. I have never had a Concord grape pie but it sounds delicious! What a great way to use the grapes.

  3. These grapes sound wonderful. The traditional, heirloom varieties always have a certain something.,,wish we could get to the Grape Festival to try them,,.

  4. Oh my I've never heard of grape pie! I bet it is bursting with flavor...thanks for the recipe!

  5. Oh my I've never heard of grape pie! I bet it is bursting with flavor...thanks for the recipe!

  6. I do believe that I enjoyed grape pie when I lived in New York, I also am a fan of the Concord grape, in a pie or in the hand, I'll eat them any time I can get them. It sounds like I will need to do a "work-around" because the grapes available here are limited. But I will give it a try as soon as the new oven arrives.

  7. This sounds wonderful. We still have a few farms that grow them in Niagara.

  8. Yum! I love concord grapes but I've never had a grape pie. I'll have to try that sometime :)


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