concord grape

I have really been into Concord Grapes this season. I have been eating them nonstop. I have made several rounds of sorbet and ice cream. There is something so exquisitely nostalgic about the taste of Concord Grapes. No other grape tastes so classically “grape” and no other have the same dark luscious color. It is the complete and utter taste of the grape of my childhood. We had wild Concord grapes growing on the backside of our barn and on a huge boulder settled in the center of the apple orchard. We did nothing to keep them but they kept giving to us to us year after year.

I have a vivid memory from when I was about five or six of sitting at the kitchen table on a late fall afternoon, the air in the kitchen was heavy with the smell sugar and grapes. It was a jam weekend. I sat for what seemed forever, watching the absurd  bundle of smashed grapes drip through the many layers of cheesecloth twisted and stained and tied in a tidy knot. The juice of the grapes fell steadily into a large bruised ironstone bowl that sat in the middle of the long slate sink. The sound somewhat hypnotized me as the last of the late afternoon sun pierced the air and tiny dust particles floated about. As night settled in the only movement was the cat brushing  against my leg and the constant plip, plip, plip of the grape. 

Yes, Concord grapes have seeds but I have no issues with the seeds. Life is not seedless.

A Non Traditional Concord Grape Sorbet and Ice Cream

The first time I set out to make Concord grape ice cream and sorbet I had a houseful of girls and not a lot of time and one of them was allergic to eggs, so I decided to try my luck with a non-egg ice cream and a straight up sorbet. Eggs are essentially there in ice cream to act as an emulsifier and to create a light custard so I wasn’t sure how my non egg ice cream was going  to work out. I started with 8 cups or so of Concord grapes, which I destemmed.  I made my grape juice concentrate by cooking down the grapes until just soft, cooling them, then pulsating them in a blender for a quick moment. I then ran them through a sieve to separate the seeds and the solids from the juice. After transferring the juice back to a pot, I added 1 cup of sugar and returned the grape juice to the low flame, while stirring constantly until the sugar was dissolved. I then cooled the grapes juice until luke warm and added two cups of heavy cream. Stir until blended. (Don’t worry if it does not look completely mixed, it will integrate fully later when it goes in the ice cream maker.) I put the mixture of cream and grape juice in the freezer in a metal bowl to chill. When it was completely cold after and hour or so, I poured it into the bowl of my Cuisinart ice cream maker and followed instructions. When the ice cream had formed I transferred it to a shallow container with a top and put it in the freezer to further set. It was a vibrant grape color and deliciously creamy, the texture seemed totally fine to me and the girls had no complaints in fact they could not eat enough of it!! So, was this an ice cream ? I am not sure. Most ice cream recipes tend to call for eggs, so does it technically count? Or was it something akin to frozen Concord grape cream? I really don’t know. I just know it was delicious.

I made the sorbet the same exact way with the exception of not using cream. I started with 8 cups of concord grapes, roughly two quarts. I destemmed the grapes and threw them all in a pot with 1 cup of water and the juice of half a lemon. I cooked them down until soft, mashing them a bit. When they seemed soft, I set them aside to cool. I then transferred them in two batches to the blender and gave them a quick pulse to chop them up a bit further. (This is just a quick pulse; you don’t want to chop the seeds to bits!) I then ran the puree through a sieve to separate the seeds and solids from the juice. I transferred the juice back to the pot on low heat and added one cup of sugar stirring constantly until the sugar was dissolved. I put the mixture into a metal bowl in the freezer to chill. When it was completely cool, I transferred the liquid to the Cuisinart ice cream maker and followed instructions. When the sorbet formed, I transferred it to a shallow container with a top and placed it in the freezer to set. The result was a very dark and juicy Concord sorbet.

If you are stickler and have the time, you can deseed the grapes before you cook them down. I don’t choose to do it that way.

Below is a recipe for a more traditional way of making an ice cream. For me cooking is about experimenting and inspiration I follow very few rules except when it comes to hardcore baking because no one likes a saggy cake!


Concord Grape Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup of milk

1 ¾ cups sugar cups

¼ cup water

8 cups concord grapes

4egg yolks

pinch of sea salt


Place the grapes in a large saucepan with ¼ cup water and cook over low heat until bubbling. Smash the grapes with a wooden spoon to break them up a bit.

When the grapes are soft. Cool, then place in a blender for a quick pulse to further break them up.

Strain the grape solids and seeds from the juice through a sieve and set the juice aside to cool.




In the meantime,

Combine the cream, milk  and half the sugar in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat.


In a separate bowl whisk the yolks with the other half of the sugar.


When the cream mixture is just heated, whisk a cup or thereabouts, 1/4 cup at a time, into the eggs until the sugar and cream is fully combined with the egg yolks and sugar. Transfer back to the pot and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly for a few minutes until the mixture has just thickened to a light custard

Combine the cooled grape juice and the custard until integrated. Don’t worry if it does not fully mix, it will later in the ice cream maker.


Pour into a large bowl and chill.


When the mixture has cooled completely. Transfer to the bowl of your ice cream maker follow. Once the ice cream has formed, remove it from the ice cream maker and pack the ice cream into a shallow container with a top, and freeze for a few hours. Your ice cream is then ready!

ingredients for plum and grape tart


Concord grape Sorbet and ice Cream


cooking down the Concord grapes and running them through a sieve




Concord grape ice cream and sorbet 


where the wild things are. no.1. wildcrafting and wild edibles.

This post marks the start of an ongoing series relating to foraging, wildcrafting and wild edibles.  Gathering wild edibles has been something I have always done without really thinking about it. It was a way of life growing up on a small New England farm in a very rural area. There wasn't a season that we didn't gather some kind of wild edible. It helped that my stepmother was an amazing gardener/botanist and a Vermont farmer’s granddaughter. We spent countless hours in the woods and the fields on our small farm where she would point out edible plants to us. In part it was an economic choice to gather these treasures as it has historically been for many New Englanders. In the early days of may she sent us out to gather the tiny wild strawberries that grew in the cow pasture. With them she made her coveted wild strawberry jam. When we drove her crazy she shooed us outdoors to find "sour grass" or sheep sorrel and other wild greens for the salads. At summers end we gathered blackberries and elderberries, and with the colder days of fall we were sent in search of wild grapes and cranberries. I can still find the exact spot on my dad's property where wild cranberries grow and the one juniper bush lives at the wood's edge in that far corner of the large field. At the time I was not so crazy about growing up on a small family farm, but now I think it was the perfect place to be. We were given an absolute freedom of the woods that I am not sure kids have today. When I moved to New York for school some twenty odd years ago I never thought I would stay, but here I am, a complete city dweller.  So I have decided to bring a little of the woods and the country into my city life by using more wild edibles on a regular basis. Some of these I will gather myself when I can and others I will get from professional wildcrafters and gatherers at the many local markets here in New York City.

I was inspired by a recent trip to Faviken in Northern Sweden where I had the most unusual and spectacular meal of my life. I ate mushrooms and moss and lichens and a seven year old dairy cow, but it was the philosophy behind it that mostly had me hooked. The Sweden trip renewed my interest in gathering.  As I mentioned earlier, I am not a stranger to gathering by any means, I gather ramp and wild onions, dandelion greens and teaberry and of course all kinds of wild berries in Upstate New York where I go to get out of the city. The Sweden trip made me realize it can be part of my every day life even if I am not constantly living in the country. At Faviken, they take great care with what they pick. They gather ethically, only harvesting small amounts of wild edibles. They realize they have a relationship with the forests and the fields and they must at all costs protect that delicate balance. The dishes they serve are very minimal. I was suddenly seeing the beauty and the flavor in a single pea flower as opposed to a whole pile of them. I fell in love with the long forgotten lovage plant. I had wild herb infusions every morning and a cold juniper infusion with dinner. Walking the woods with Magnus, the chef at Faviken, suddenly everything seemed very alive. We talked about reindeer lichen and old man's beard, mushrooms and berries.

As far as mushrooms go I have never really spent much time picking them. I went with my grandparents and their Italian friends a couple of times in Northern Vermont, where they lived for many years, to pick chanterelle's and morels. I don't feel particularly confident picking mushrooms myself.  Since there are so many poisonous similes I tend to leave the mushrooms to the experts. There is a definite science to mushroom picking, spore prints must be done and guides should be consulted. I would never pick mushrooms without checking a guide and doing a spore print.

That is a whole other post for another time! 

 wild strawberry