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Old 09-21-2017, 05:10 PM
 
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Picked up a small basket of fresh Finger Lakes concord grapes today at a stand (Troy, PA) near the NYS border. I'm used to eating seedless green or red grapes and not familiar with eating grapes with seeds and a gelatin like center. The seeds are just too hard to crunch down on without breaking a tooth and the center is very slippery. Advice is appreciated.
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Old 09-22-2017, 06:29 AM
 
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Ah, but the flavor, so redolent of the Northeastern countryside in the Fall (as opposed to your seedless red or green supermarket grapes, which taste like little sacks of vaguely-sweetish dishwater).

Here is the process we employ in Chautauqua County, world center of Concord grape culture:

1. Grasping the bunch firmly by its main stem in the left hand, select an individual berry and, utilizing the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, pluck it from the bunch with a swift, clean motion.

2. Inspect the grape to ensure it is free from insect penetration, scabs, or spider webs. Webs may be removed by gently rubbing with the thumb, but berries with active or recent insect activity should be rejected.

3. Place the grape in the mouth. Then, with the lower teeth, make an incision approximately halfway through the berry. Remove the two or three seeds with the tongue while simultaneously pushing the main body of the grape to either side of the mouth cavity.

4. With a decisive motion spit the seeds out of the mouth, either onto the ground (where they will be eaten with great relish by meadow voles), into a napkin, or out the car window.

5. Bite down on the remainder of the grape using the rear molars in order to effect a perfect blending of the honeyed juice of the interior and the robustly flavored skin, with its bitter/sour nuances. This burst of flavor sensation is the essence of the Concord grape experience.

6. Swallow and repeat. Be aware that Concord grapes rank highest in antioxidant capacity of the most common fruits and are especially rich in resveratrol--the heart healthy compound found in wine and thought to maintain normal cholesterol (resveratrol also helps promote the flexibility of arteries, which helps improve circulation). A small bunch of Concords contains as much potassium as a banana along with other vitamins and minerals; phytochemicals--particularly flavonoids--contained in the Concord grape are naturally occurring compounds that help maintain a healthy heart.
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Old 09-22-2017, 08:48 AM
 
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Thanks a bunch. (No pun intended.)
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Old 09-25-2017, 07:25 PM
 
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As for the "best way" to eat Concord grapes--many would argue that nothing on Earth beats Concord grape pie (note: here in Chautauqua County we prefer a crumb topping):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vw7bpsWSG4

P.S. Don't try this with Thompson Seedless from the supermarket!
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Old 09-26-2017, 09:50 AM
 
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Some great information. Thanks for sharing.

One question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by acornsower View Post
Here is the process we employ in Chautauqua County, world center of Concord grape culture:
I know the folks in Concord, MA are very proud of their grapes (which were named after the town, if memory serves). That's also home of "Welch's" (makers of the grape jelly). When you write "world center of Concord grape culture" are you being tongue-in-cheek, or does Chautauqua have some special connection to Concord grapes. (Not a challenge - I'm genuinely curious).
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Old 09-26-2017, 10:41 AM
 
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There is a huge Welch's grape processing plant in the town of Northeast, PA, which is actually in northwest, PA. They process concord and Niagara grapes from Chautauqua County, NY and surrounding areas of NY and PA.


Most concord grapes are used to make cheapish (vin ordinaire) red wine, grape juice and grape jelly. By the way, I couldn't master the technique of eating seeded concord grapes. I gave what I had left to a neighbor, who within 2 seconds had spit out the seeds and completely consumed what was left of the grape.
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Old 09-26-2017, 05:29 PM
 
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Chautauqua County has 19,000 acres of grapes growing in a concentrated area one to three miles in width between Lake Erie and the Allegany Escarpment, the largest grape-growing region in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and the largest Concord grape region in the world. It spills over into Erie County, PA--around the town of North East--for a total of 30,000 acres. This small area has a microclimate (Hardiness Zone 6B to 7A) with the mildest winters in New York State north of the Tappan Zee, a soil that is primarily comprised of ancient lake beach gravels that are absolutely perfect for grape culture, and an enclosing ridge that deflects the heaviest snows and provides for remarkable air circulation.

Concord grapes are THE way of life here. North East is known as the "Grape City;" Westfield, New York, calls itself the "Vine City" (North East's high school sports teams are the 'Pickers'). Little Ripley, New York, in between those two larger towns, is said to have more grape vines than all the New England states put together. Concord grape pie and Concord grape iced tea are staples at all the local restaurants. In the Fall, the air itself in the Grape Belt towns is redolent with the odor of grapes, and the highways are thronged with great flatbed trucks hauling the fruit to the juice plants. The countryside itself looks like Tuscany with all the manicured vineyards and the blue lake shimmering in the background.

Concord, MA is the place where Ephraim Wales Bull developed the grape in the 1850s, but it was never really noted for its grape culture. Dr. Thomas Welch perfected the pasteurization of grape juice not long afterwards and set up operations in Vineland, NJ. After just a few years he moved his plant and offices to Westfield, NY, a far more congenial location. The corporate headquarters remained here until the 1980s; the governing board of the co-op remains in Westfield while the corporation itself moved to, yes, Concord, MA. The largest Welch plant is in Westfield to this day, right next to the Growers Co-op plant and across the way from where Mogen David Cream White Concord is made.

The region also contains 26 wineries making some surprisingly good stuff. Growing conditions and climate are actually far better than the Finger Lakes, and many of those vaunted Finger Lakes wineries secretly use our good Chautauqua County grapes!

Here's a video that sums it up neatly:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzvYKbE8_hQ
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