Concord Grape

Availability: September-October

Source: United States

Handling Tips: 36-38° F.

General Information: Concord grapes are a cultivar of grape used both as table grapes and wine grapes. They are also a cultivar of the North American Vitis labrusca or "fox grape" species.

The skin of a Concord grape is typically dark blue or purple. It is a slip-skin variety, meaning that the skin is easily separated from the fruit. Concord grapes have large seeds and are highly aromatic. They are often used to make grape jelly, grape juice, grape-flavored soft drinks, and candy. The grape is sometimes used to make wine, particularly kosher wine, though it is not generally favored for that purpose due to the strong "foxy" flavor.

Concord grapes may have health benefits, such as reducing hypertension and the negative effects of second-hand smoking, but the results of studies on these benefits are as yet inconclusive.

Serving SizeOne Cup
Total Fat0.3 g
Sodium2 mg
Total Carbohydrate15.8 g
Sugars0 g
Protein0.6 g
Calcium13 mg
Phosphorus9 mg
Vitamin C0.3 mg
Thiamine0.08 mg

Applications: Concord grapes are often used to make grape jelly and are occasionally available as table grapes, especially in New England and also in Texas. They are the usual grapes used in the jelly for the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and 'Concord' jelly is universally sold in U.S. supermarkets. 'Concord' grapes are used for grape juice, and their distinctive purple color has led to grape flavored soft drinks and candy being artificially colored purple. Recently, white grape juice with a milder flavor and less ability to stain fabric, primarily from 'Niagara' grapes, has risen in popularity at the expense of 'Concord' juice. The dark colored 'Concord' juice is used in some churches as a non-alcoholic alternative to wine in the service of communion.

Concord grapes are also used for flavorings -- such as in gum and candy; ice creams, sherbets and milk shakes; gelatin desserts; fillings for cakes, doughnuts, cream puffs. These grapes are also used in the preparation of cream of tartar, an ingredient in baking powder.

History: Although commercial grape production dates back to the year 1000 B.C., it was not until 1854 that the Concord variety made its debut, appropriately named after the Massachusetts village of Concord where the first of its variety was grown. The Concord grape is a robust and aromatic grape whose ancestors were wild native species found growing in the rugged New England soil.

The Concord grape was developed in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull in Concord, Massachusetts. Bull planted seeds from wild Vitis labrusca and evaluated over 20,000 seedlings before finding what he considered the perfect grape, the original vine of which still grows at his former home.

Early ripening, to escape the killing northern frosts, but with a rich, full-bodied flavor, the hardy Concord grape thrives where European cuttings had failed to survive. In 1853, Mr. Bull felt ready to put the first bunches of his Concord grapes before the public -- and won first prize at the Boston horticultural Society exhibition. From these early arbors, fame of Mr. Bull's (the father of the Concord grape) Concord grape spread world-wide, bringing him up to $1,000 a cutting, but he died a relatively poor man. The inscription on his tombstone states, 'He sowed--others reaped.'

The first unfermented grape juice known to be processed in the United States was by a Vineland, New Jersey dentist, Dr. Thomas Welch in 1869. Dr. Welch, his wife and 17-year old son, Charles, gathered 40 pounds of Concord grapes from the trellis in front of their house. In their kitchen, they cooked the grapes for a few minutes, squeezed the juice out through cloth bags, and poured the world's first processed fresh fruit juice into twelve quart bottles on the kitchen table.

To preserve the juice, Dr. Welch stoppered the bottles with cork and wax and boiled them in water hoping to kill any yeast in the juice to prevent fermentation. Dr. Welch's process was a success, and his application of Louis Pasteur's theory of pasteurization to preserve fresh grape juice pioneered the industry of canned and bottled fruit juices in America. This first juice was used on the Communion table in the local Methodist church for sacramental purposes, and most of the first orders for grape juice came from churches for Communion.

Recipes: 1

Concord Grape Pie