So far I’ve harvested about 30 lbs. of these midnight purple beauties from my garden. The vines are about 5-7 years old and they were planted by the previous owners of the house. I knew nothing about how to take care of grape vines. So the during our first spring here I thought I might do a little trimming here and there. The vines grew robustly but there were no grapes by the fall. I’m not very good with plants. I tend to take the Michael Perry approach to gardening. That is to go with impulse and intuition without specific knowledge and discipline. This year, my intuition said to just leave the vines alone but now I can barely close the freezer door!
In the 1800’s, Ephraim Wales Bull worked to cultivate a unique tasting cold-hardy grape from with seed from native species. He finally succeeded after experimenting with about 20,000 seedlings. His grape won first place at the Boston Horticultural Society exhibition. He called his grapes Concord since they were first grown in Concord, Massachusetts. The cuttings were sold for about $1000 each but he did not really make that much money by the time of his death. “He sowed–others reaped” was inscribed on his tombstone. A Dr. Welch from New Jersey who had some Concord grapes in his front yard decided to make some juice along with his wife and son. He developed a bottling process that would preserve the juice and prevent fermentation. Fast forward to now and you’ve got the extremely popular Welch’s brand juice and jellies. What would life be like without peanut butter and Concord grape jelly or grape juice for lunch? Probably more grumpy kids and adults? You can read more about the history on the Concord Grape Association website.
Concord Grape Syrup
- 5 lbs. Concord grapes
- 4 cups sugar
- 1/4 c. water
Heat up the grapes slowly with 1/4 c. water. When they are soft but not completely falling apart, take off the heat and strain through a sieve. Return the juice to the pot and bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce the liquid. Add the sugar and bring it up to boil again. Cook until the consistency coats the back of a spoon. I stored mine in some mason jars and followed regular canning procedure. You can use the syrup to make juice or soda, to drizzle on pancakes or ice cream, or take a spoonful to make the medicine go down in the most delightful way!
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