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Varying in color from deep blue to purple or almost black, the large round Concord grape grows in loose clusters on sturdy climbing vines. A powdery film, or bloom, develops on the skin’s surface which provides a natural waterproofing and also prevents cracking. The berries’ thick, tannin-rich skin offers a pleasant chewiness against the juicy and almost gelatinous inner pulp. The seedy flesh is almost translucent with a slight green tinge and is both tangy and rich. The grape’s unique sweet musky flavor is sometimes described as “foxy”, alluding to the species’ alias, the fox grape.
Concord Grapes are available from late summer into early fall.
The Concord grape is a variety of Vitis labrusca that is named after the city of its origin, Concord, Massachusetts. It has been a part of American viticulture since 1843 and one of the oldest domestically cultivated grapes still grown today. These blue-skinned grapes are responsible for making the famous and popular Concord grape jelly and have become a major crop throughout the United States.
Concord grapes are and excellent source of vitamin C and the phytonutrient, Resveratrol, an important chemical in maintaining heart health.
The Concord grape is incredibly versatile and used for making preserves, juice, wine, liqueur and vinegar. When eaten raw out of hand, watch for seeds in this tart, but succulent-tasting grape. The intense grapey flavor makes an excellent tangy sorbet that pairs well with rich creamy desserts such as cheesecake or panna cotta and, of course, peanut butter. Other complimentary flavors include, almond, pistachio, hazelnut, walnut, peanut, lemon, strawberry, raspberry, endive, arugula, fennel, rosemary, mint, yogurt, sour cream, crème fraiche, goat cheese, blue cheese, pork, duck and poultry.
Grape juice was first made by Dr. Thomas Welch, a prohibitionist, making his famous grape juice as an alternative for communion wine.
Concord grapes originated in Concord, Massachusetts in 1849 when Ephraim Wales Bull first cultivated them. Bull wanted to create a hardy vine that could survive the cold climate of Massachusetts. He initially planted 22,000 seedlings and after 6 years chose one single vine that proved to yield the best fruit, and that original vine is still thriving today in Concord! Winter hardy, the vigorous plants can produce over twenty pounds of fruit per vine per year and often live for more than forty years. In the United States, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington are major producers.
Recipes that include Concord Grapes. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Gourmande in the Kitchen||Concord Grape Sorbet with Rosemary and Black Pepper|