Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Grape Pie Time

 Ah, regional specialties.  It's the season for one of my favorites, and time for an updated annual post.

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 normally advertise grapes or grape juice for sale.  The wineries prepare for an onslaught of tourists for harvest season.

This year, I don't know.  I was in grape country at the end of August, and went to a farm stand.  No grapes.  The person I spoke to said they lost the entire early crop to the rain.  We've had too much.  We've had even more since, and should be getting still more on Wednesday.

But, there is a regional favorite - grape pie.  I was able to buy one.

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, the seedless Concord grapes I could get five or more years ago are gone.  Just plain gone. So now I buy ones with seeds, but they aren't the best for breakfast cereal.

As for grape pie, one has to to travel an hour and a half or so away from the Southern Tier of New York, where I live.

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, pie made with Concord grapes, those purple globes of heaven.  These grapes are the grapes you find in concord grape jelly and grape juice and yes, certain types of (commercially sold) 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.)

The best part of grape pie 2021?  Naples, New York is having its annual grape festival (cancelled last year) this weekend.

As for their grape pie...

For the first time in two years, we visited Monica's Pies in Naples, New York. It's just about the only place in the Canandaigua Lake area you can get fresh baked grape pies all year.

COVID-19 had made its mark here.  It's a small store and you can't go inside.  All business was conducted from a walk up window.

But they had the pies in stock.

How about a brief history of Concord grapes?  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.  I drank gallons of the stuff as a child.

And no, you will not find me making grape pie, at least from scratch.  It's an arduous process. Monica's sells a premade grape pie filling in a quart canning jar.  I have one in the house.

But if you're tempted, here's a recipe. 

Now, excuse me while I wash off some seeded Concord grapes for my breakfast.


  1. ...we are off to Naples today!

  2. I am quite familiar with the very sweet wine …

    Enjoy your pie.

  3. That's a pie I've never seen. It makes sense, grapes being fruit and fruit going into pies. Welch's Concord grape is the only grape juice I buy.

  4. Never heard of grape pie. I bet its delicious, especially this time of year.

  5. Never had grape pie, or heard of anyone putting grapes on their cereal, very interesting.

  6. Funny! i was there last year and had grape pie. Umm. Not my fave. But not bad, either! Carol C

  7. Oh I want to try this. It sounds wonderful. The wine of pies.

  8. Yes, you have mentioned grape pie before. I would really like to try some. I guess I have to come to New York to find it. (You'd think with all the grape growing in CA for wine someone would attempt grape pie. But not that I've heard of.)

  9. Now I’m craving GRAPE PIE! Something I've never even heard of before.
    You win, Alana! ;)

  10. Concord grape evokes just one memory- Manischewitz!


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