A few weeks ago, I was asked to be a judge at the 1st Annual Queen Anne Farmers Market Blue Ribbon Pie Contest. I got to check out and taste first hand 19 different homemade crusts and fillings. There were pies I had not thought of making before including a grape pie made by Kelly Cline which really intrigued me.
“Stop at Jeanette and Andrew’s. They have home-grown Concord grapes, just picked, set aside for you to make pies.” Two days after the competition, I received a phone call from a friend with this news while I was out on errands. Serendipity, I think.
They were making homemade grape juice when I stopped by. “This year has been fantastic for these grapes”, Andrew said showing me their bountiful home-grown harvest. I left with enough grapes for four pies and was excited to get started.
Since I had never made a grape pie I pulled out some cookbooks to look for a recipe that I could use as a starting place. Most all called for a seedless grape. Searching online an article from the New York Folklore Society popped up with a recipe using Concord grapes, exactly what I had. I decided to give it a whirl.
The first step is peeling grapes.
Now, this sounds like it would be painstakingly slow. But, using the technique described in the article, it’s much faster than I thought.
Here’s how it works:
1. Hold the grape in your fingers opposite the stem end and squeeze it out of it’s skin! Easier than pitting cherries one by one if you’ve ever done that. Put on some music and squeeze out the greenish grapes into one bowl and the purple skins in another.
2. Next, the now skinless green grapes go into a heavy saucepan on the stove to boil for 5 minutes. During the cooking, the seeds spit themselves out of the fruit all by themselves. Amazing!
3. Pour the cooked grapes into a bowl. There will be some seeds mixed in with the fruit but the majority will be neatly contained in the bottom and easy to spoon out.
4. Now use a food mill to make a smooth pulp which is then poured over the waiting grape skins. What you have now is deconstructed grapes in a bowl.
5. Cover and let sit overnight. As the recipe says, “This colors the pulp and makes it pretty.”
In the morning I was up early and anxious to see what my grape pulp looked like. True to the recipe, they were a lovely color of purple.
The rest of the recipe is simple:
- Add sugar and thickener to grapes. For 6 cups of grapes, I used 3/4 cups sugar and 5 Tablespoons of flour.
- Roll out pie dough and place in pan.
- Pour in grape mixture and dot with butter.
- Roll out the upper crust and cover fruit.
- Crimp edges.
- Share with friends.(This part is very easy to do!)
The beautiful bright purple filling tastes like good grape juice when done.
I took it to a gathering of friends and before I could turn around, it was eaten all up…and everyone had smiles on their faces.
Baking Notes: Very juicy when cut into. Flour seems to work well instead of tapioca; 5 T seems about right.