Concord Grapes — Not Just For Jam

Have you ever had Concord grape pie?  Better yet, how about Concord grape muffins?  Well until you have, you just have not lived.

I’d never thought about using concord grapes for anything other than jam, jelly and syrup, until I started researching other options on the internet a few weeks ago.  Am I glad I did.  I came across several ideas, including the pie and muffins, that I could hardly wait to give a try.  The pie filling was an immediate hit with hubby.  I first canned the tarter of the two batches of Concords I had and he absolutely loved it.  As always, there was extra that didn’t fill a jar, so he used it on crepes.  Using what I considered to be very little sugar, the tartness of the grapes came through and made for a very interesting filling.

The second batch of filling I used the sweeter grapes.  These were so sweet that even cutting the sugar in half wasn’t enough.  It turned out very sweet.  No worries though.  With this batch I can either mix it with the tarter version when making a pie or better still, mix it with a can of homemade tart cherry pie filling or even rhubarb pie filling.  Having both of these in the pantry is certainly going to come in handy.

Concord Grape Pie Filling

 DSCF5211

  • 20 Cups Whole Concord Grapes
  • 2 Cups Sugar for tart grapes, 1 Cup Sugar for sweeter
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cup Clear Jel mixed with Water

The hardest part of making the pie filling is preparing the grapes.  This is definitely not for the faint of heart.  It is truly a labor of love.  Can you think of any other cliché’s I can put in here?  Hopefully you get my point — it’s a whole lot of work!

After washing and stemming the grapes comes separating the pulp from the skins.  It’s not difficult popping the pulp from the skins, just terribly time-consuming.  It took me over an hour to pop the centers from the skins of enough grapes for one batch and this was with the help of Grace.

Once the pulp is separated from the skins, place the skins in a stock pot and bring to a boil.  At this point I like to use my stick blender to make sure the pulp separates as much as possible from the seeds.  Once all the pulp is mush and it’s been boiling for about 10 minutes, strain out the seeds.  This can be done with a food mill, but I just used a mesh strainer.  The stick blender really made quick work of the pulp and after only a few stirs, all the pulp came through the strainer leaving only seeds behind.

Next, return the seedless pulp to the stock pot, add in the skins, sugar, lemon juice and Clear Jel slurry, and bring back to a boil.  Be very careful when bringing this to a boil.  Typically I cannot let it come to a rolling boil because it is so thick it splatters terribly.  Being that it has to be stirred constantly so as not to burn, medium-high heat until it just comes to a boil seems to be the best advice. It will already be very thick and a rolling boil isn’t necessary.

Then it’s time to ladle into hot jars and process in a water bath for 35 minutes.  That’s it!  Okay, that is quite an understatement, but it is truly worth the effort.

To use, pour a jar into a pie crust, top with another crust or crumble if you prefer, and bake at 450 for 25 minutes covered with foil.  Remove foil, decrease oven temp to 350 and bake another 30 minutes.  Of course using a jar on crepes, pancakes, or Belgium waffles is a great option as well.  Just open, heat, and serve.  Hubby even likes it cold!

Concords are far more versatile than I ever gave them credit for.  Next year I am most definitely going to be grape picking more than I have in the past.  Now that I know there is far more to grapes than just jelly, I can’t wait to explore all the possibilities, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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3 responses

  1. Pingback: Mixes-In-Jars #2 – Fruit Crumble | Simply Grateful Housewife

  2. Hi, Tilly! Just discovered this wonderful website that had the exact answer I was looking for!! Yea for you!!!!! However, I need some clarification regarding your Concord Grape Pie Filling. You say to separate the skins and the pulp then put the skins into the stock pot and bring to a boil. Then you speak of boiling the pulp about 10 minutes and separating the seeds. How long do you boil the skins? And to clarify, you boil the skins and the pulp both individually? Then you combine them, add the sugar, lemon juice, and Clear Jel and bring to a boil again? How much water do I add to the Clear Jel? I appreciate your time in clarifying the instructions. I’m a newbie to the canning process and to Clear Jel and want to make sure I do it correctly. Thank you!!!

    • Hi Teri, thank you so much for stopping by my blog.

      First I’ll address the Clear Jel to water ratio. Typically I add as many tablespoons of water as I do Clear Jel, but when you get into larger quantities like when you are making pie filling, you add as much water as necessary to make a fairly thin slurry. There is really no wrong amount, but I always try to keep the water to the bare minimum so there is no chance of it diluting the taste of the fruit.

      As for the time you boil the skins — this would be just bringing them to a boil to heat them, and I would add the lemon juice or some water at this point so they don’t burn. Once they are at a boil, cover and remove from burner.

      The reason the pulp is boiled separately is so you can remove the seeds from the pulp. While the pulp is boiling I use a stick blender to loosen the pulp from the seeds and then strain the mixture after 10 minutes. Then you can add the strained pulp to the skins along with the sugar and Clear Jel slurry.

      I hope this helps. If I’m still not clear, please let me know and I’ll try again. Sometimes it’s hard to write it clearly and this particular fruit is definitely harder to write about with the added steps of separating the fruit and then recombining it.

      Have a great day!

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