Celebrate fall with this delicious Concord grape pie recipe. This traditional pie recipe from upstate New York consists of a flaky pie crust filled with lots and lots of Concord grapes. With only four ingredients this grape pie recipe is not difficult to make and is a unique holiday dessert with outstanding grape flavor.
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When it comes to favorite fall flavors every area of the country has their own special dishes and here in upstate New York Concord grapes are one of those classic fall foods. A Concord grape pie is a tasty new autumn tradition you can make along with a old favorite flavors like caramel apple cake or an easy pumpkin trifle.
Pretty purple Concord grapes are grown all over the Finger Lakes region of New York and in the western part of the state. Fall is harvest time when rich clumps of these plump purple grapes are ripe and ready to pick and bake in this grape pie recipe.
Concord grapes are traditionally used for making jelly or juice, but they also make delicious pies! It makes sense since you can make almost any fruit into pies, but I had never heard of making grape pies until I moved to New York.
Concord Grape Pie
Every year in the fall we’d drive through the Finger Lake wine country around Naples NY. In the village of Naples there are always signs along the road for homemade grape pie, so one year we had to stop and buy one. And once I had tasted grape pie I had to learn how to make my own!
What does Grape Pie Taste Like?
Grape pie is a delicious combination of sweet and tart. Before I tasted my first grape pie I was worried it would be like eating a pie filled with grape jelly – but it is not like that at all.
The pie flavor is intense. The sweetness of the grapes is beautifully balanced by tartness. The pie looks kind of like blueberry pie because the grape skins add texture and body to the filling. And the smell of the pie, especially as it bakes, is amazing.
Do I Have to Use Concord Grapes?
In order to make grape pie you have to use grapes that have a slip skin. Concord grapes are the most commonly grown slip skin grapes in the U.S. Concord grapes are a deep purple color with thick skins and rather large seeds.
But you could try another type of slip skin grape, like Catawaba, if you have a local supply. It would of course change the taste and pretty purple color of the pie since all grapes have their own distinctive characteristics. Niagara grapes are sometimes labeled and sold as white Concord grapes but are not actually Concord grapes.
Concord grapes are only available from late August until October. Around here you can find them at farm stands, u pick farms and even in grocery stores like Wegmans. Or maybe you have a neighbor with an abandoned grape arbor! These grapes are worth tracking down.
How to Make Concord Grape Pie
This dessert is not difficult to make, but it is a little time consuming. This is mainly because you have to take the skin off the grapes. Now I know what you are thinking – who wants to peel grapes?!? But stay with me, it turns out it is easy to separate the skin from the pulp.
1. Slip the Grape Skins
Since these are slip skin grapes the peels actually slide right off when you pinch the grapes. The best way to do this is to have a sauce pan and a bowl. Squeeze the grape over the sauce pan until the pulp pops out and falls in the sauce pan. Then put the peel in the bowl.
You will use both the peels and the pulp in the pie. The peels are a deep purple and the pulp inside is green.
Squeezing the grapes is a little messy, but kind of fun and makes a great job of kids who want to help. Working by myself it takes me about 20 minutes to squeeze all the grapes and separate the peels from 2 pounds of grapes, enough for one pie.
2. Boil the Pulp and Separate the Seeds
At this point the pulp still has seeds in it. So the next step is to boil the pulp to make it easy to get rid of the seeds. Take the sauce pan with the pulp and bring it to a boil. Stir it occasionally, while it boils, for 5-10 minutes.
The seeds should separate and start floating freely in the sauce pan. Once the pulp has broken down strain it through a colander into the bowl of grape peels.
The first time I made grape pie I used a wire mesh strainer to separate the seeds. It took forever because the mesh holes were so small. The Concord grape seeds are large, so use a colander with holes that are smaller than the seeds and the straining process takes a minute or two.
3. Thicken and Chill the Grape Pie Filling
Now it is time to thicken the grape pie filling. Boiling the pulp helps release pectin from the grapes, which makes the filling gel, but it isn’t enough by itself.
Add 2 Tablespoons of instant tapioca to the bowl with the hot pulp and grape peels and mix it well. Then stir in the sugar. The grape pie filling then needs to be refrigerated for a couple hours, until it firms up.
I add less sugar to my grape pie recipe than you will find in most recipes. I have made this recipe for years and gradually decreased the amount of sugar to where it is now, which I think is plenty but keeps the pie from being overly sweet.
4. Assemble the Concord Grape Pie
Making the filling is the time consuming process of making this pie! If you want to make a homemade pie crust you can do that while the filling chills. I usually just use a refrigerated crust.
Roll out a pie crust and put it in the bottom of a pie plate. Then pour the chilled filling into the crust.
Most grape pies use a floating crust or a lattice crust on top of the pie so that the pretty purple grapes shine through. I used small leaf cutters to cut vent holes in the top pie crust and put the cut out leaves around the edges of the pie.
In the past I have made mini grape pies, and used a maple leaf cookie cutter as the top crust. You don’t have to do anything fancy though, you can just add a pie crust on top and cut some vent holes.
5. Bake the Pie
The pie needs to bake for about 45 minutes and it will fill the house with an amazing aroma as it cooks. This pie does tend to bubble over a bit around the edges, so it is a good idea to put a cookie tray under the pie to catch drips.
The edges of the pie will brown before the pie is finished. So use a pie shield to cover the edges after about 15 minutes or cover them with foil.
How to Serve Grape Pie
It is better to let the pie cool for about 2 hours before you cut it. It is tough to wait though, because it smells so good as it bakes!
You can serve the pie by itself or add in a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top. I enjoy it most with nothing added so that the intense grape flavor really shines through! The pie is very rich though, so don’t cut the pieces too big.
Can I Freeze Grape Pie?
This pie freezes well. You can assemble the entire pie, right up until baking, and then freeze it for up to 3 months. When you are ready to bake it should be baked frozen, without thawing, about 10 minutes longer than the recipe calls for.
To me what is even easier than freezing the pie is making extra grape pie filling and freezing that. Once the filling is made assembling the pie is simple.
The filling can be frozen in freezer bags or freezer containers and kept for up to 6 months. When you are ready to make your pie, thaw the filling and proceed as the recipe directs. Since Concord grape aren’t available all year long this is an excellent way to get fall flavors anytime.
Other Uses for Grape Pie Filling
You don’t have to use the grape pie filling to make a pie. You could use it to make a grape cobbler or a grape crostata. I’d suggest only using half the filling recipe to make a grape crostata.
If you love grapes and are looking for something different give this Concord grape pie recipe a chance for some homemade goodness on your holiday table.
- 6 cup Concord grapes (about 2 pounds or 2 quarts)
- 2 Tablespoon instant tapioca
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Your favorite pie crust
- Wash the grapes.
- Slip the skin off the grapes. Gently squeeze the grapes until the green pulp pops out and separates from the skin. Put the pulp in a sauce pan and the grape skins in a separate bowl.
- Place the saucepan with the pulp on medium heat and bring to boiling. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes. The pulp should break down and the seeds should start floating freely.
- Put the boiled pulp through a colander to remove the seeds. Put the pulp in the same bowl as the grape skins.
- Add the tapioca and sugar to the bowl of grape skins and grape pulp and stir well.
- Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour to allow it to gel.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Roll out a pie crust and put it in the bottom of the pie tin.
- Pour the chilled filling into the pie crust.
- Top the pie with a floating crust or lattice or just cut some vent holes in the top crust.
- If you like brush the pie crust with an egg wash made from a beaten egg to make it brown nicely.
- Put a cookie sheet under the pie in the oven because the filling tends to bubble over the edges of the pie plate.
- Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes. Then check the edges and cover them with a pie shield or foil if they are brown.
- Continue to bake until the middle of the crust is light brown, about 30 minutes.
- Makes enough filling for one 9" pie or three 4" mini pies
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 92mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 2gSugar: 35gProtein: 2g