Baking a Memory
When I asked my daughter-in-law, Lisa, what she was going to do with all the Concord grapes she bought along the roadside this past weekend, she said, “My sister and I are going to bake grape pies.”
Well, I was excited and impressed. I don’t recall ever eating a grape pie. My mother always made apple, cherry, peach or custard pies and I stuck with those. The closest thing to grape pie that I’ve had is gooseberry. The unique pie always causes me to think of Congressman Ike Skelton, who was so fond of that particular variety that Kay Caskey often hand-delivered one, or more, to his DC office.
Concord: A Grape with Intensity—and Seeds
Yes, people are picky and partial when it comes to pies. But when Lisa texted a photo of her grape pies, I was off to her house lickity-split. I quizzed her about any unique features involved in grape pie making. She said the process was a bit labor intensive. You have to squeeze the grapes from the skins, boil the pulp, and run it through a food mill to remove the seeds.
But because Concords are of the “slip skin” variety, they slide easily from the skin. Kids think it’s great fun to help and love the stained fingers. Then you combine the skins back with the pulp before adding the few remaining ingredients: sugar, butter, cornstarch, and lemon juice.
In Search of the Old Recipe
Unable to find the recipe she remembered using growing up, Lisa found this Concord Grape Pie on line and cut the sugar to 3/4 cup, upped the lemon juice to 1 teaspoon, and added a teaspoon of cornstarch. It was perfect!
Lisa added a touch of art with a lattice-top crust, that was quite lovely. Though it looked much like a blackberry pie, the grapes gave a greater intensity of flavor. She froze the extra ingredients, so there’s makings for more. Hmm. . . I’m thinking Thanksgiving.