If you’ve never had concords you’re probably thinking, Really, Faith? Grapes? They’re good in an eh, it’s a fruit and I should get my daily quota kind-of-way. But nothing spectacular. Barely worth a cursory glance.
Those are normal grapes, and concords are nothing approaching normal grapes.Concord grapes are in a class all their own. They are a stunning dark purplish/bluish/blackish color, and are perfumed with a wonderfully sweet and fruity aroma. Biting into one, they’re both sweet and slightly tart with a crisp, clean flavor. They taste intensely like grape. Real, pure, grape…if you’re a fan of 100% grape juice, it’s like that. Only infinitely better.
I live not too far from grape country – Welch’s actually has a museum and vineyards within less than an hour’s drive. Every year I go grape picking with my family and there is absolutely nothing better than concord grapes eaten straight off the vine. (No, I don’t do that…ok, maybe just a couple, lol.)
Last year I made Concord Grape Juice and Concord Grape Jam (which I later used to make Grape Jam Bars in a Jar). This year I felt like switching it up a little and made a variation of the jam with the addition of balsamic vinegar and warm spices. Oh, and I didn’t pulse the grape skins in a food processor. Why? I wanted my jam to have more noticeable pieces of fruit.
If you can still find local concord grapes in your neck of the woods, this is a lovely recipe to try!
***As with any jam recipe, please read the full recipe before starting. Also, please note that in my recipe for Concord Grape Jam, I give several tests for determining when jam is done***
- 3 lbs Concord grapes (weighed after you remove the stems)
- 3 cups sugar
- 3 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1½ to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (add more or less, depending on how much you like cinnamon)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper (this is not a typo, lol)
- Slip the skins off the grapes and set aside for now.
- Transfer the grape insides to a heavy-bottomed, lidded 5-quart pot; cover the pot, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Turn heat off and cool to room temperature (this will take up to a couple hours). Transfer the grape insides to a cheesecloth-lined sieve fitted over a bowl to catch the liquid; gently wring the cheesecloth to extract as much liquid as possible.
- Transfer the grape liquid back to the pot along with the grape skins, sugar, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat (uncovered), then turn heat down and simmer (uncovered) until jam is done (see one of the tests for determining if jam is done that I mention in my recipe for Concord Grape Jam), about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Transfer the jam to sterile jars; the jars should be preserved through canning or stored in the refrigerator.
Washing the Grapes: Wash the grapes before you de-stem them, but weigh them after (so you don't include the weight of the stems).
To Balance Out the Additional Acidity From the Balsamic: You can add 2 to 3 tablespoons of additional sugar if desired.