Concord grapes arrived early this year, and I couldn’t be happier. Patience is a must: the longer on the vine, the sweeter the fruit; sunlight develops their sugars. Now they’re begging to be picked, burdening vines with tight clusters of purple-black orbs covered with bloom, the cloudy film on the surface of the skin.
Hardy and versatile, they’re as welcome in wines as in jellies and jams, a feat few cultivars can accomplish. Hats off to Ephraim Wales Bull, who won top honors at the 1853 Boston Horticultural Society Exhibition for developing these full-bodied beauties, named for the Massachusetts town where they first grew.
I like mine straight from the vine, but my friends look forward to the Concord Grape Sorbet (Sorbetto di Uva) that marks harvest time. It is the simplest Gourmet recipe I know, with only two ingredients: ripe, fragrant Concord grapes and superfine sugar. Pulverize the grapes in a blender or food processor, strain, stir in the sugar, chill and freeze. The glowing purple sorbet is pure Concord grape perfection.
This year I plan to expand my repertoire with a Peanut Butter and Jelly Tart, filled with homemade Concord grape jelly. This dessert dresses up those classic lunchbox flavors for a treat the whole family will love. I’m saving Wine Cake with Macerated Strawberries, featuring medium-dry Concord grape wine, for when the vines are bare, so I can enjoy my favorite grapes between seasons.
What will you do with your Concord grapes?