Concord grape tips, tricks and recipes

Sep 17, 2008 at 10:56 a.m. ET

Concord grapes are now in season! Although typically used for juice, jelly and wine, these gorgeous plump purple orbs can be used in just about any recipe or simply eaten off the vine. Even better, recent studies have found Concord grapes are teeming with health benefits. No matter if you juice ‘em, jam ‘em, or eat them whole, be sure to get your fill of Concord grapes this season.

Concord Grapes

Get to know your Concord grapes

Concord grapes are native to North America and are named after the town in Massachusetts where they were originally cultivated.

Concords are a variety of the purple grape but they are known as "slip-skins" which means the skin easily comes off the flesh. Concords are eaten by sucking the meat out of the skin, after the seeds are removed.

They are certainly one of the most robust of the grape varieties, and are most often used for juice, wine, jams, tarts and other desserts.

Concords are not usually found in the grocery store, but can often be purchased at your local farmers market or whole foods stores.

Health benefits of Concord grapes

One cup of grapes provides approximately 62 calories and almost as much potassium as a banana.

Recent studies have linked Concord grapes to protection against breast cancer, urinary tract infections, and heart disease. Concords have also been associated with a reduction of hypertension and narrowing of the arteries as well as combating the cardiovascular damage of smoking.

Health benefits also apply to Concord grape jelly and juice.

Concord grape recipes

Recipes courtesy of the Concord Grape Association

Stuffed Cornish Hens

Makes 6 servings

6 Cornish game hens, thawed if frozen, giblets removed and reserved
Salt and pepper
Game hen livers
8 tablespoons butter, divided
1/3 cup chopped onions, divided
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon brandy or sherry
1/4 cup chopped bamboo shoots
1 cup raw wild rice mix or 3 cups cooked
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup Concord grape juice
1/4 cup Concord grape jelly
1-1/2 cups canned beef gravy
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Season hens with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, saute livers in 2 tablespoons melted butter until cooked through. Add 2 tablespoons of onions and saute. Mix in seasoning, brandy and bamboo shoots. Stir half of the cooked rice into the liver mixture.

2. Spoon liver mixture into hens. Seal the ends shut with a skewer or toothpicks. Move hens to a foil covered roasting pan and brush with remaining 6 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake hens for about 1 hour.

3. Combine wine and grape juice and spoon over hens every 10 minutes while cooking. Remove hens from pan and place on a serving platter tented with foil to keep warm.

4. Pour pan juices into a saucepan and mix in beef gravy, lemon juice and curry. Simmer until well combined and thickened. Serve sauce with hens and remaining rice.

Concord Grape Cake

Makes 1 cake

1 (18.5-ounce) package white cake mix
1 (2-ounce) envelope whipped topping mix
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups cold Concord grape juice
Confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease and flour a tube pan. Combine cake mix, whipped topping mix, eggs and 1 cup juice. Beat mixture until well combined.

2. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan. Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let rest 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

3. Poke holes in the surface of the cake with skewers. Pour remaining juice over cake into holes. Let cake cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Homemade Concord Grape Juice

Makes 2 cups 

2 cups concord grapes, washed
1/2 cup sugar

1. Crush grapes in a pot over medium heat and cook until juices run. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth, squeezing out all the juice into a bowl. Discard solids.

2. Pour juice back into a pot and heat over medium to a scald. Mix in sugar and boil 5 minutes after the sugar is dissolved. Pour juice into a pitcher and let cool. You can add water to dilute the juice to your preferred taste.

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