I received a special delivery this week: Ten pounds of organic Concord grapes from a friend’s garden! I have been wanting to make a Concord grape pie for at least a year now ever since I came across two very intriguing vintage recipes in my old cookbooks.
My 1940s Maine Rebekahs Cook Book called for using eggs for the filling thickener in lieu of starches as did the Jewish Cook Book, also from the 1940s. Differences between the two is that the Rebekahs instructed me to cook the filling for five minutes before adding the filling, whereas the Jewish ladies did not. What the latter had in the ingredients list was something that really makes this pie extra special and I haven’t seen it in any recipe, new or old! So what was it and how did I make the pies?
I made four test pie fillings before I came up with the final recipe which has received high marks from Wayne and the family of my friend who brought over the grapes (I made him a pie, of course!) I did not care for the eggs as a thickener; the filling was too runny. I loved the suggestion of cooking the ingredients before filling the pie (and still baking it) because it helped with color uniformity. The brilliant ingredient is cinnamon!
As you can see, ten pounds of grapes is plenty for experimenting in a test kitchen!
Now, onto my recipe which is adapted from the best of both with my own additions and gluten-free variations.
2 lbs Concord grapes
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sifted oat flour
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
9″ pie crust
Separate the grape skins from the pulp. This is time consuming so I sat outside on my deck during a beautiful breezy bug-free afternoon and enjoyed the simplicity of the task.
Place the green pulp into a saucepan and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and stir for five minutes or until the pulp breaks down. Pour the green pulp and seeds into a sieve and strain the juice into a bowl. Discard the seeds and place the grape skins, green grape juice, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice into the saucepan. Heat on medium and stir constantly for five minutes. Remove from the heat source and let cool before refrigerating for a couple of hours. Once cold, add cornstarch and oat flour to the cold filling and mix until thoroughly blended. Use a large spoon to break down any small starch/flour lumps. Place the filling into an unbaked pierced 9″ pie shell. If desired add pastry on top, vent and brush with a beaten egg. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for ten minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 and bake another 35 minutes.
I also experimented with making mini grape pies topped with pie crust cut-outs. I baked them at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.
I know it seems like my recipe has a lot of starch, and you’re right! It was the right balance I found to avoid a runny pie. Grapes are very juicy!
My Concord grape pie recipe is still moist yet not messy to slice and serve.
See! Trust me and try it.