*Fresh Concord Grapes are simmered with apple cider and seasonal spices for a warming, rich, fruity drink that is perfect for sipping on cool Autumn evenings.
Are grapes an incredibly finicky fruit to grow?
I’m thinking they must be, seeing as we have a trellis covered in vines that has never gifted us so much as one teeny baby grape. When I was little I have memories of roaming through my grandparents grape vines, heavy laden with deep purple/blue Concord Grapes each fall. I would pop the grapes out of their dusky, sweetly floral scented skins, and into my mouth where I would savor the surprisingly tart, juicy flesh while dodging the prominent seeds. I don’t think there is a single scent or flavor more strongly tied to my childhood than that of the Concord Grape. My grandmother made gallon upon gallon of bottled grape juice with those grapes, and when we bought our home with the surprise bonus of mature grape vines I envisioned gallons of grape juice in my future.
Now, if only my vines would only produce actual grapes.
In a bizarre twist of events: this summer as I dug through the raspberry canes, plucking their berries from the center of the bush, I came across several small bunches of green grapes. In the raspberry bushes.
That one rouge vine was all we found and it left us about 1 1/2 pounds of of beautiful, fragrant purple grapes.
But what does one do with only 1 1/2 pounds of grapes? Since this variety of grape is full of seeds, simply enjoying them on their own didn’t seem like the best way to utilize them. 1 1/2 pounds is no where near enough to make grape juice with, though a drink was what I had hoped to make when I originally stumbled across the grapes. I found my answer thumbing through the pages of Amy Chaplin’s ‘A Whole Food Kitchen’. Grape Cider! Simmering the grapes with apple cider and spices seemed the perfect way to enjoy the few handfuls of grapes I gathered.
You can use store-bought apple cider or apple juice, but if you really want to make the most of this drink, find local fresh apple cider. It is incomparable.
If you don’t have the spices listed on hand, you can make substitutions as needed. I really wanted to simmer my cider with a spiky button of star anise but my tow is unaware of their existence , apparently (and yes, the internet makes anything and everything readily available, but THAT, my friends, would take advanced planning. Not always my forte). Allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom were my spices of choice and I will say that they performed spectacularly.
Enjoy this sweet and subtly spicy drink on a cold fall evening with someone you love, as its myriad of flavors and hot temperature lends itself to slow sips and long conversations 😉
- 1½ pounds Concord Grapes (on the vine), washed, stems removed
- 3 cups Apple Cider or Apple Juice
- 3 cups Water
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 4 Whole Cloves
- 6 Whole Allspice
- 5 Cardamom Pods, crushed open
- 1 Orange Slice
- Place the grapes, apple cider, water, cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice, cardamom pods, and orange slice in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/low, and let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Press down on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids.
- Pour into mugs and serve warm.
- Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks.
More hot drinks to kick off your fall!: