The concord grape was developed in Concord, Massachusetts by Ephraim Wales Bull in 1849. This won the first place at the Boston Horticultural Society Exhibition in 1853 and was introduced a year later for the market in 1854. Dr Thomas Bramwell Welch developed the now-famous Welch grape juice in his house in 1869 and through pasteurization, stopped fermentation of the juice. Today almost all “grape” flavored candies and drinks are based on the concord grape taste.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Vitales
- Family: Vitaceae
- Genus: Vitis
- Species: V. labrusca
- Binomial name: Vitis labrusca
Concord Grape Trivia
- Concord Grape juice provides similar benefits to red wine
- Grapes are actually berries!
- It takes about 2.5 pounds of grapes to make one standard bottle of wine
- Concord grapes were developed to survive and thrive in colder climates
- Grapes were first brought into America by Spanish missions over 300 years ago
Concord Grape Buying Guide
When buying concord grapes, look for bunches with plump fruit and a consistent color throughout. The stems should be green and pliable and not “wood-like” in texture.
Avoid concord grapes that are starting to look shriveled and if the grapes are beginning to fall off from the stems.
Don’t worry about the whitish coating on the surface of the grapes. This is called “bloom”, and it’s perfectly natural. This coating helps prevent moisture loss and grape decay.
Concord Grape Production & Farming in Texas
While Texas has 27 native varieties of grapes, the concord grape isn’t one of those. The concord grape’s specie, which is the Vitis labrusca has a hard time growing and thriving in Texas.
The primary growing areas for Concord grapes are The Yakima Valley in Washington, Lake Eerie, Finger lakes district of New York, Lake Ontario, and Southwestern Michigan.
Grapes are a perennial entry on the dirty dozen list due to the number of pesticides that are used on the plant and are detected on the fruit. While it may be tempting to munch on them directly, it’s best to wash them thoroughly before consuming.
With the grape being on the Dirty dozen list, it’s best to purchase organic whenever possible.
Concord grapes thrive best in fertile, deep, and well-drained soil with a pH level of 5.0-6.5. They also need full sun exposure and protection from extreme cold and gusts of wind. The concord grape can be expected to grow in Hardiness zones 5-9, but they do best in zones 5-6.
Depending on the intended use, concord grapes are either harvested by hand or by machine.
Machine harvested grapes are used mainly for juicing and wine production.
Concord grapes that are bound for market shelves as table grapes are harvested by hand. The selection process begins on the vine. The fruits are inspected on the vine for quality and ripeness before being cut from the vine. The cut grapes are either field packed, meaning they get packed right there on the field, or in cases where field packing is not feasible, they are sent to packing houses.
The grapes are screened for quality, removing substandard or damaged grapes from the bunches. Once the screening is complete, they are packed according to the customers’ specifications before being cooled down in preparation for transport. Grapes are not usually washed before they are packed and sent to shelves as washing will decrease the shelf life of the grapes.
Enjoying Concord Grapes
Always run your concord grapes under running water for at least 30 seconds and soak them in cold water for a few minutes before consuming them to remove surface contamination. There are no special preparations needed to eat and enjoy concord grapes, be careful of the seeds.
Store concord grapes unwashed in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag for up to a week. Only wash concord grapes until you’re ready to consume them.
To freeze concord grapes, remove them from their stems, wash thoroughly then freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan before transferring to a freezer bag. Frozen Concord grapes will last up to a year.
Due to its intense grape flavor and natural sweetness, concord grapes are great for making candies, jams, jellies juices, pies and a whole range of other recipes.
To use concord grapes for cooking, remove the stems and the seeds, and you’re all set. Depending on the recipe, you may also have to remove the skin.
They say that wine is good for the heart; what they forgot to say is that it’s good for the heart because it’s made with grapes.
- Concord grapes are classified as a low glycemic index food so eating Concord grapes or drinking grape juice won’t cause blood sugar level spikes
- Many juices made from concord grapes contain a lot of fiber
- Fiber helps with digestion and keeping your gut free from unwanted toxins
- Vitamins and minerals:
- Concord grapes are rich in antioxidants
- Antioxidants protect against many chronic health conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes
- Concord grapes are a great source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K
- A serving of concord grapes provides more than 25% of the RDI for both Vitamin C and Vitamin K
- Vitamin C helps boost the immune system
- Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone health
- Contains 6% of RDI of potassium
- People who consumed high levels of potassium are less likely to die from heart disease versus those who consumed less potassium.
- Concord grapes are rich in antioxidants