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Concord Grape Pie

Nothing says fall in Upstate New York like a grape pie. This grapey Naples, NY confection is fairly new to the world of desserts, but it sure has made an impact. This annual treat is anticipated by many, and for some home cooks like myself worth the time-consuming effort it takes to put one together.  I am not going to lie, it is work to put one of these bad boys together.Upstate New York Concord Grape Pie

 

The History of The Finger Lakes Concord Grape Pie

Irene Bouchard is universally recognized as the mother of Naples’ grape pies, if not their actual inventor. In the early 1960s, Al Hodges, owner of the Redwood Restaurant, decided to use a novelty dessert to attract customers. Using a recipe he adapted from Irene Bouchard, he added pies made from abundant local grapes to the menu. The Pies were a widely popular success and Irene Bouchard became known as the Grape Pie Queen of Naples, New York. It wasn’t long before other locals started baking grape pies out of their kitchens and selling them at roadside farmstands.

Concord Grape Pie

It is estimated that twenty thousand pies are sold during Grape Festival Weekend alone. That is a whole lot of grape pie! But if you can’t get out to the Grape Festival this weekend I have got you covered with this recipe for Concord Grape Pie. Yes, I did say it was work, but this sweet pie is worth it!

My recipe is an adaptation of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Concord Grape pie from The Pie and Pastry Bible. Unlike Mrs. Bouchard’s grape pie, this version has a little lemon and is thickened with cornstarch.  Grape pie filling is an extremely wet filling, and very easily turns into a big soggy mess. After many, many failed attempts at concord grape pie, I have found I get the best results with this pie when I pre-cook the filling on the stovetop. This added step ensures a perfectly thickened filling and reduces the chances of a soggy bottom crust.  Just be absolutely sure to allow the filling to cool completely before you place it in the pie shell.  If the filling is hot it will melt the bottom crust. Yes, I learned this the hard way:-/

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Concord Grape Pie

  • Author: Jennifer
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe or your favorite double crust pie dough prepared
  • 1 1/2 lbs of Concord grapes (after removing from stems)
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (6.0 oz) sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Instructions

  1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll 1 half of a double crust pie dough into a 15-inch round. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, pressing it into the edges. Trim to a 1-inch overhang all around. Cover with plastic wrap; chill pie shell until firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat process for rolling out dough for the top crust. Transfer to a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pie.
  2. Wash grapes and discard any that are under-ripe, damaged and blemished.
  3. Remove the skins from the grapes by pressing them between your thumb and forefinger. Put the skinless grapes in a medium saucepan. Reserve the skins in a small bowl.
  4. Gently mash the grape pulp in the medium saucepan to release their juice. Cook over medium low heat until grapes come to a full boil, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Press the grapes through a fine sieve and discard the pits.
  6. In a heavy bottomed pot: combine the grape pulp, grape peels and all the remaining ingredients . (You’ll have about 1 1/3 cups of pulp – add everything else and you’ll have about 2 cups) Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring continually until the filling is slightly thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the bottom third of the oven with a pizza stone or baking sheet on it.
  8. Transfer the cooked filling to the prepared pie shell. Moisten the edges of the pie crust with water and attach the top crust, crimping the edges to seal the crust.
  9. Cut six small slits in the crust to act as vents. Place pie on the pizza stone, protect the edges with a pie ring, and bake for 30 minutes at 400° F and then reduce heat to 375° F and bake an additional 25-30 minutes until the filling is bubbling. Cool on a wire rack for at least 3 hours before cutting.

Homegrown Concord Grapes


Concord Grape Pie is a favorite Upstate New York local seasonal confection. The pie is slightly labor intensive, but worth it,  there is nothing else quite like this sweet pie!
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22 comments
  • Hi, Jennifer.
    I’m leaving a comment for you because we have a few things in common. I lived in the Finger Lakes area in the early 90’s. My husband (at the time) and I packed up 4 U-Haul boxes and loaded a Greyhound bus and traveled across country from Washington state to the Elmira/Watkins Glen area. I had my first taste of concord grape pie when we cleaned out a goat barn for a friend’s grandparents. I was instantly in love with the flavor and never forgot about it. I planted a few concord grape vines 4 years ago in some good sized pots. Several people told me that I wouldn’t be able to grow grapes in a container. After 2 years, they produced but I still had to buy roughly a 1/4 of a pound of grapes from a local farmers market to make the pie. This year, however, I have ample enough to make my one pie. I have 2 grape vines and I get one pie a year from them. It’s a win-win situation for me. This year, I’m going to use your filling recipe and freeze it for Thanksgiving. I’m really glad to have found your blog and I look forward to reading more about an area that I happen to have loved living in…even though it was only for a year and a half. I’m back in Washington state now, but will always have fond memories of Upstate NY.

  • Hi Jennifer,
    I live in south west Ohio . I was lucky enough to pick up about a half bushel of grapes yesterday brought to my favorite roadside stand from up north!
    My Mother learned to make grape pies from her Mother on their farm in Lynchburg Ohio from the grapes they grew. I don’t know how far back the tradition went but that alone would take us into the late 1800’s. We use the same process of separating the pulp for skins and placing in a cone sieve with a crank handle an paddle to separate the seed from
    the pulp, then adding in the skins and cooking. Here’s where the recipes differs. As the grapes cook down we add sugar to taste and that’s all. Before placing in a pie crust we put flour in the bottom of the crust, the add some sugar, stir around to blend evenly and pour the filling on top. Rest of the process is the same. I wish I could tell you how much flour and sugar to use but I’ve alwawys done this by feel! Maybe 1/2 c fllour and a little less sugar…. As you stir it with your fingers it will have a silky slightly sandy feel.
    We have always canned our grape filling and I am wondering if made this way, with only sugar, it would freeze well or would it water down? What do you think? I may sacrifice a cup as an experiment!

  • I’m in the process of making this pie, so while the pulp is cooling I thought I would send you a question….. could I prepare the filling and then freeze it for later use? I can’t wait to taste this pie.

    • Hi Becci! I have made and froze this pie filling before! The first time I made it and froze it as written here and had issues with it separating once it defrosted the second time I made it I subbed tapioca starch and it held together well. I will update this layer in the evening with the amount of tapioca I used (I’m out of the house for the day ?
      I hope you enjoy the pie, it is one of my favorites!

      • Could you please post how you substituted Tapioca starch and is this the same as instant tapioca? This is a great recipe. I’ve made 2 pies which were both great.

        • Hi Becci,
          I am so sorry, we have been harvesting our silage corn and in all the craziness this slipped my mind !!
          I substituted instant clear jel for tapioca for freezing purposes, instant jel stands up beautifully to both high temps & freezing temps, and creates a filling that’s just as clear and shiny as what you’d expect to get from tapioca I have added a link to the Amazon Product Page so you can check it out, but I suggest getting it at a local Amish or Mennonite Bulk Food Store. I sub half the amount of clear gel for the tapioca called for in the recipe, so about 1 1/4 tablespoon of clear gel per pie. A word of warning this stuff thickens like crazy and it lives up to its name, it happens as soon as it touches liquids, make sure to mix instant clear gel in with some of the sugar called for in the recipe! I just froze up 5 pies worth of filling last night here is a quick rundown of the process I use (and I will create a separate post with pictures for with these instructions) :

          • Wash, remove stems remove the skins from the grapes by pressing them between your thumb and forefinger. Put the skinless grapes in a medium saucepan. Reserve the skins in a small bowl.
          • Gently mash the grape pulp in the medium saucepan to release their juice. Cook over medium-low heat until grapes come to a full boil, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
          • Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Press the grapes through a fine sieve and discard the pits.
          • Combine the grape pulp, grape peels,  and lemon juice. In a small bowl whisk together 1 1/4 tablespoons Instant Clear Gel with about half of the sugar called for in the recipe. Add the sugar/Instant Clear Gel Mixture to the Grape mixture, and stir well, slowly stir in the rest of the sugar, if you feel your pie is too runny you can add a half to a teaspoon more to the reserved sugar until the filling reaches the desired consistency. (You’ll have about 1 1/3 cups of pulp – add everything else and you’ll have about 2 cups of pie filling)
          • Pour pie filling into a container, leaving 1/2 –1-inch headspace, or Line a 9-inch pie plate with aluminum foil. Place the concord grape mixture into the foil and freeze until solid, 6 to 8 hours.
            Once the filling is frozen, remove from the aluminum foil and wrap in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag. Seal, label, and freeze.

          As a side note, I just recently found out about Alton Brown’s frozen pie fillings (Peach and Blueberry) I was always told you could not freeze tapioca, but if Alton Brown is doing it, it has to work 🙂 Maybe the secret is not cooking the filling first?? I will be trying this in a couple of days with my recipe but thought I would pass the link on to you in case you can’t get a hold of instant clear jel, and are ok with a little experimenting.
          https://altonbrown.com/frozen-peach-pie-recipe/
          https://altonbrown.com/frozen-blueberry-pie-recipe/

          I am so glad you are enjoying the Concord Grape pies! This and sour cherry pie are my favorites!

  • I always wondered why everybody removes the seeds and skin from most fruits when they cook with them. The bible tells us that seeds are our meat. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but you must eat the seeds to make this work. I have recently talked my wife into making pies with the seeds left in. Apple, Pears, Grapes. Its a lot less work, the pies have more nutrition and I get more pies because of the less work. Recently a white concord pie appeared with the seeds left in. It is delicious. The seeds are just like crunchy nuts once it is cooked. People need to research why there is such a high rate of cancer, its because they have removed foods that keep rouge cells in check. Seeds are one of those cancer fighting sources.

  • Thus looks like a wonderful way to use up my left over grapes from making grape jelly! Same about of labor but probably more delicious! Definitely will be trying this! Thank you!

  • I am from Upstate NY, now living in New Mexico. My neighbor had a huge Concord grapevine and we spent an afternoon making the filling, just as this recipe is written. I brought a pie to a shared Thanksgiving dinner where there were all the traditional pies – pumpkin, apple, mincemeat, etc. The grape pie was gobbled up immediately. No one had ever had one before. It was a bona fide hit. So, so good.

  • I used to travel all over Upstate NY for business and once bought a grape pie from a “pie lady” with a table set up along the rural road – somewhere south west of Rochester – not sure exactly where. It was delicious and I wanted to make one but couldn’t find a recipe in any of my dozens of cookbooks. I had forgotten all about it until I saw your Facebook post for the Half Moon cookies…starting browsing and found this. Can’t wait to try it!

  • LOL! It’s scary how much we think alike. I posted a grape pie recipe a few days before you did. It was my very first time making a grape pie and it won’t be my last. My family originates from the Naples area so I am very familiar with the popularity of grape pies there. Your pie looks delicious Jennifer – let’s have a pie eating contest!!

  • Hi Jennifer, I’ve never even heard of grape pie let alone tasted it but it looks fantastic! Such a delicious creation! Your pictures are gorgeous as well. Thanks for a great recipe. I saw you over at Jebbica’s and just had to see more! Have a great weekend.

    • Thank you Robyn! I am surprised the grape pie trend hasn’t traveled beyond Upstate New York! It is a great pie 🙂

      • Well, Jennifer, I don’t think Concold grapes are nearly as plentiful anywhere else, so it makes sense. They do grow here in Ohio, though, and I just got some (very late crop this year) and skinned 10 pounds of them this evening, to make pies tomorrow. I have two friends who rely on me to make them a pie every year. I thought there was no hope of finding any this year, but my patience paid off.

    • Naples is so pretty this time of the year! Monica’s does a killer glazed strawberry pie during strawberry season!

Jennifer Morrisey

Hi! I’m Jennifer – a work at home, farmer's wife, mom to 3, living life in Upstate New York! I love sharing tasty recipes, easy do it yourself projects, and little stories of life on a farm in the Finger Lakes.

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