This pie is a regional Finger Lakes tradition. It originated in Naples. NY which is near the south end of Canandaigua Lake. This is also where my Dad and Tracy have a second home which I love to visit. Yet somehow, I have never had a concord grape pie! I was supposed to make it out there for the annual Naples Grape Festival in late September but “life happened” and I didn’t end up out that way, to my dismay. I had planned to FINALLY try some of this pie! And to make it worse I started seeing pictures of some of my friends who live out way eating pie at the festival! Something had to be done. The solution came in the way of an impromptu trip to the farmer’s market on a rainy Saturday morning. And guess what was plentiful at the market? Yep, concord grapes! They are only in season for a short time during the fall so I had to snatch them up.
Standing before the table, trying to decide how many grapes to purchase I mentioned to the vendor that I had never even eaten a concord grape. He said, “Well try one then!” so I plucked one off of a vine, popped it in my mouth and experienced pure grape bliss. This is the thing good grape juice is made of! It tastes like you are “eating” grape juice! Then I became really excited for the pie. My taste buds were tingling in anticipation already. I was not disappointed either. This pie is rich and unmistakably grapey. It is like candy and syrup and everything sweet and yummy. I wanted to eat it out of the pie with a spoon!
Unfortunately, you really can’t make this pie with regular grapes, the flavor in them is just not nearly concentrated enough and the skins aren’t easily removable like on a concord grape. The skins of the concord grape just “slip” off. Lucky for us, because the skins are first removed, the pulp is cooked then passed through a food mill to separate out the seeds and then the pulp is mixed back in with the skins. Removing the skins is an easy thing: hold a grape between your thumb and forefinger with the “stem end” pointing towards you bowl and apply pressure until the grape innards pop out leaving the thick skin in between your fingers. There are some other filling ingredients in the way of flour, sugar and lemon juice but it is really mostly grape! This filling congeals while it bakes up to create a truly unique pie!
Yea, and it’s great with homemade vanilla bean ice cream!
I have used a lot of different pie crusts and decided, yet again, to try something new. The recipe I used for this pastry crust I found on allrecipes.com and it is called “French Pastry Crust”. There is NO butter in this crust! I was a bit shocked but because of the rave reviews, decided to give it a shot! There are a couple unique ingredients in this recipe: egg and vinegar. I don’t think I’ve ever made a pie crust with egg in it before! I like the flakiness of this crust but it was a bit difficult to handle. Not impossible but it definitely formed more cracks than my usual butter and shortening crust. Unfortunately, when I put my pie into the over, I set a timer and left the room for a good 20 minutes, during which time the oven somehow turned off. So when I came back to check on it, it had not baked, rather sat in a warm oven. This really did a number on the crust. It started to dry out and the shortening melted so I can’t really judge what I think of this pie crust recipe fairly. It did not brown evenly and overcooked for sure by the time I got the filling cooked properly. Despite all of this, it was still flaky and delicious so I think that I will try it again. For some reason, making chicken pot pie with this crust is calling my name. I apologize in advance for the pictures of the full pie which will reflect the overcooked nature of the crust, but I assure you, it is delicious and the filling is perfect!
I also based the pie filling recipe on one I found on allrecipes.com, called “Concord Grape Pie 1” although most of the ones I found out there are quite similar. Give this a try if you can get your hands on concord grapes! I am so taken with the flavor of these grapes that I went back out and bought more so that I can try to make jam with them! I’m so excited or this, but in the meantime I will be perfectly content with my delicious pie. 🙂
French Pastry Pie Crust
- 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp. fine kosher or sea salt
- 3 tbsp. granulated white sugar
- 1 cup chilled shortening
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
- 4-5 tbsp. cool water
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade combine the flour, salt and sugar. Pulse to combine
- Add in the shortening in small pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal
- In a small bowl, combine egg, vinegar and 4 tbsp. of water and whisk to combine
- Gradually add the wet mixture to the flour mixture, pulsing to combine
- If the dough does not come together in one rough mass, drizzle in the last tbsp. water.
- Divide the dough equally into two zip lock bags and knead into discs
- Place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes. If you let it chill much longer than that, you may need to remove it a few minutes before rolling
- Roll each disc out on a well-floured surface to desired size
Concord Grape Pie
- 1 recipe for French pastry dough (or your favorite pie dough for a double crust)
- 5 cups Concord grapes
- 1 ¼ cups granulated white sugar plus extra for sprinkling
- ¼ cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- Pinch fine kosher or sea salt
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 ½ tbsp. butter, cut into small chunks
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Prepare pie dough and fit into a pie dish and roll out the top crust, placing on a large cutting board or piece of wax paper. Refrigerate the dough in the pie dish and the top crust while preparing the filling
- Remove the grapes from their vines into a colander and wash thoroughly
- Remove the skin of each grape by holding a grape between your thumb and forefinger with the stem end facing down into your bowl and applying pressure until the innards pop out, leaving the skin in your hands
- Place the grape “pulp” into a medium saucepan and the skins in a separate medium bowl
- Using a potato masher, mash up the grapes a bit while you cook them over medium low heat until they come to a full boil
- Remove the grape pulp from the heat and press through a food mill or sieve into the bowl with the skins, to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds
- Stir the lemon juice into the bowl with the skins and pulp and mix to combine
- In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, flour and salt
- Stir flour mixture into the bowl with the grapes
- Remove pie dough from the fridge and place pie dish onto a baking sheet (the filling will likely bubble out a bit while baking so this will catch the drips)
- Pour the grape filling into the pie dish and dot the filling with the cubed butter
- Top with the second piece of pie dough. Trim the dough and crimp or flute the edges
- Brush the top lightly with the beaten egg and sprinkle with a bit of sugar, if desired
- Cut a few small slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape
- Bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the juice begins to bubble through the slits in the top crust
- Allow to cool before slicing (if you can) to allow the filling to congeal