|Outside of Naples, New York, late August 2016|
Grape season has come upon us here in upstate New York once again. On the roadsides along the Finger Lakes (a little more than an hour from where I live), signs advertise grapes or grape juice for sale. The wineries prepare for an onslaught of tourists for harvest season.
And then there is a regional favorite - grape pie.
I love to eat Concord grapes and, I have to admit, they do make a wonderful pie. I also put them on my breakfast cereal. In season, I can't get enough of concord grapes. Alas, this year, the crop wasn't a bumper crop due to a drought. But at least I can get grapes.
For grape pie, though, I have to travel an hour and a half or so away from home.
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 grapes, but more bursting in flavor (and smaller, too). If I start eating a bunch, I can't stop.
I don't worry too much about eating a lot of these grapes, 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 Concord grapes, a seedless variety (smaller than the original) has been developed, but both varieties were for sale yesterday at a local farm stand.
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. But if you want to try your hands at it, try this recipe.
If you really want to eat pie, you need to visit Naples, New York, home of the Grape Pie.
|Monica's, Naples, New York, late August 2016|
I could live in that store.
Buy a pie. You'll never regret it. There are two types, regular crust topping and crumb - your choice.
Does your area of the world have a favorite pie?