Thursday, November 09, 2006

Grape Pie

Many things about grape pie appear initially to be difficult. First of all, there is the name. “Pie” is one of my favorite words. I once read an article by John T. Edge about fried pie, and I just sat there for what may have been six or seven minutes saying “fried pie, fried pie. . . ,” but how do you say grape pie? Gray pie? Grape by? Grape eye? I've been practicing, but I'm still not confident. Another difficulty is the problem of getting the seeds out of Concord grapes after popping the grapes from their skins. This turns out to be much less trouble than I feared.

There used to be rows and rows of Concord grape vines on the farm. I loved the way they tasted, but eating them was a real challenge. You had to pop the grape into your mouth squeezing all the fragrant juices out of the inedible skin. You then had to apply something like thirty pounds of suction pressure on the grape pulp in your mouth to extract the seeds. I knew other children who swallowed the pulp with the seeds, but I could never bring myself to do this.

It turns out that the seeds come out easily enough once the grapes are cooked, and even the skins soften up a bit.

First prepare a piecrust. "Piecrust" is another one of my favorite words. Piecrust, piecrust, piecrust. For this pie, I tried using coconut oil in my pastry for the first time, and I am very pleased with the results. I might possibly even try an all coconut oil piecrust sometime.

Butter and coconut oil pie crust

12 ounces all-purpose flour, about 3 cups

4 ounces sweet butter, one stick, one half cup

4 ounces coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

Blend the butter and coconut oil into the flour with your fingers or a pastry blender. Break the egg into a measuring cup and add water to come up to the half-cup line. Beat the egg and water with a fork, and add half a teaspoon salt. Pour the egg water into the flour and stir with the fork until it just holds together. Form the dough into two circles, wrap them up, and chill for at least one hour.

Grape Filling

1 1/4 pounds Concord grapes

1 rounded tablespoon flour

1/3 cup sugar

Remove the stems and any grapes that have gone a bit nasty. Wash the grapes well. With your fingers, pop each grape into a saucepan, squeezing the perfumed juice from the skins. Chop the skins roughly on a cutting board, and set aside. Cook the grape centers for about five minutes. They will turn almost white. Now push the grape pulp through a strainer or put it through a food mill to remove the seeds. That's not too hard. Return the seedless grape pulp to the saucepan along with the skins, sugar, and flour. Cook the mixture, stirring, for about 10 minutes. Taste, and add more sugar if needed. I don't think you need to add any cinnamon or lemon. Allow the grape filling to cool. If you have more grapes, make a larger batch of filling. Up to twice this amount will fit in the pie.

Heat oven to 425.

Dust your work surface with flour, and roll half of the dough into a circle 1/8 of an inch thick. Lay this dough in a 9 inch pie plate and trim the edges. Fill the pie with grape filling. Roll out the second piece of dough. With your smallest biscuit cutter, cut several small vents in the crust so that they resemble a cluster of grapes. Pretty cute, huh? That's from The Pastry Bible by Beranbaum. You can use a scrap of leftover dough to make a little stem. Lay the top crust on top of the pie and fold the edges under all around. Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 350, move the pie pan to the floor of the oven, and bake five or 10 minutes more. You can serve the pie warm or at room temperature. Some cream or ice cream will show off the many shades of purple to great advantage and will also be delicious.

You will have extra scraps of leftover pastry dough. Use this to make a buckle or slump.


Preheat oven to 425. Heat butter in a cast iron skillet. Add sliced apples (or other fruit) and sugar. Cook, cook, cook. Lay scraps of piecrust on top and place the skilet in the oven. Nicely brown in twenty minutes. Hot slump, cold ice cream. Slump!

The essay I mentioned before is "Fried Pies in Tennessee" by John T. Edge in Cornbread Nation 3. And this is from Separate Checks by Marianne Wiggins:

I like men who don't talk rough, who smell like limes and taste like piecrust when they kiss me.


Beranbaum, Rose Levy. The Pie and Pastry Bible. New York, NY: Scribner, 1998.

Lundy, Ronni, and Southern Foodways Alliance. Cornbread Nation 3: Foods of the Mountain South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

Wiggins, Marianne. Separate Checks: A Novel. 1st Perennial Library ed. New York: Perennial Library, 1989.

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Blogger Jack Steiner said...

Sounds good to me.

12:37 AM  
Blogger sher said...

Oh my goddness--this looks so wonderful. I love concord grape, rarely find them out here in CA. And the pie is lovely. I think it's so nice the way you made the cut outs in the top to look like grapes. I wish I had a slice of that pie!

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have tried making concord grape pie several times, remembering a pie my friend's Italian mother (a pie queen) used to make. Mine has always been too sweet...but I'm inspired to try again.

When I was a young thing in college in Madison, WI in the seventies, there was a drugstore chain called "Rennebaum's" which had a soda fountain/dinerish counter, where you could get, among other things, incredibly good pie. They did a delicious green seedless grape pie. There were whole grapes in it, and it was great. I have never found a recipe...but have been thinking perhaps I should make one up.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you freeze a cooked grape pie and reheat it in the oven?

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In re grapes and Judaism, the following may be of interest.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bother. I meant this:

9:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

That sounds awesome Eve. Will have to add "making grape pie" to my bucket list.

8:39 PM  

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