When I start to think about fall and september will do that to you, I often remember picking Concord grapes on my grandparents weekend farm. I loved the scent and color of these deep purple grapes. Concord grapes are not easy to find. They originated in the 1800’s in Concord Massachusetts. Today, these grapes are primarily found in New York, Massachusetts and the Pacific Northwest. I find them briefly in the farmer’s markets or a few specialty stores. Almost every knows this grape from Concord Grape Jelly, but I have found not many people buy these grapes fresh. I think it’s the fact that the grapes are loaded with seeds, but the delicious grape flavor is worth the trouble with the seeds.
Concord Grape Ice Cream
Makes approximately 1 1/2 quarts
2 pounds Concord Grapes, stemmed
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
pinch fine sea salt
optional: Concord Grape Jelly
Equipment: ice cream maker
Puree half the grapes in a food processor until smooth. Take a medium bowl and place over it a fine sieve, pressing the mixture into the mesh with the back of a spoon. Discard the solids remaining in the sieve. Repeat process with the remaining grapes. You should have approximately 1 1/2 cups grape juice. In a medium sauce pan place the milk, cream, sugar and salt. Heat and stir until the sugar is dissolve. Pour into bowl with the grape juice and blend. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to directions and then place in an airtight container and put into the freezer to firm up for at least 3 hours. Serve plain or melt a few tablespoons of concord grape jelly in the mircowave for 30 seconds. The jelly will turn into a syrup you can then spoon over the ice cream. Serve along with peanut butter shortbread.
Peanut Butter Shortbread
Makes 36 small cookies
8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter ( 1 stick)
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1 /4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat the butter,sugar, vanilla and salt until creamy and light, about 2 minutes. Place mixer on low speed and add the flour. Once combined add the peanut butter and blend well. Remove from the bowl and divide the dough into two and place onto two sheets of plastic wrap. Shape each into a log about 3/4 inch thick. Wrap into the plastic and place into the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours. To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap logs and slice into 1/4 inch rounds using a serrated knife. Arrange slices onto a baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until light brown at the edges. Cool baking sheets for a minute and then transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.