We love grapes. (We are a winery and cidery, after all.) In addition to growing grapes that we press and ferment into wine — and serve and sell in our Gettysburg tasting room — we also grow several varieties that we bring to farmers markets.
Let’s talk about a few varieties we’ll have at markets this week: Concord, Niagara, Mars, and Suffolk.
Concord grapes get all the love, and for good reason. Even though they have seeds (which some may find annoying), their flavor is like none other: intense and sweet in the flesh, tannic and a little tart in the skin. Use them to make juice, jams, or, a favorite, shrub. Pie — if you’re up for a little project — is also a delicious classic. Less work but equally intriguing: pelamushi, Georgian grape puddings.
Niagara grapes may be familiar to you: they are, after all, the source of most white grape juice in America. The seedless grapes are a cross between Concord and cassady that date all the way back to 1868. They are quite aromatic and juicy, with a flavor sometimes described as “foxy,” which basically means a little musky or reminiscent of fur. Taste them and decide for yourself! Eat them out of hand, add to juice, or use them in baked goods.
Mars grapes were developed at the University of Arkansas. These seedless grapes have a thick skin that slips off easily when you pinch the grape (aka they are a slipskin grape). Their flavor is similar to Concord, but not quite as intense; the grapes grow in close clusters. They’re ideal for eating out of hand, juicing, making jam, or adding to pie. They’re also lovely roasted with a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, and mustard seeds. (For more grape roasting ideas, head to this Epicurious article.)
Suffolk red grapes grow in loose clusters, and are slightly smaller than Mars, with a thin skin and slightly mild sweet-tart taste. They’re really tasty frozen — just rinse, dry, and freeze, then take a few out for snacking. They also make a nice pink-hued juice — you could combine them with Mars or Concord for a super grape-y flavor. When we roasted a bunch of Mars grapes, we threw in the remains of a pint of Suffolk — the contrast in colors and flavors was especially nice when paired with cheese.
Our method of juicing grapes is quite simple and you don’t need any special equipment to do it: Rinse your grapes and put them (stems and all!) in a saucepan or pot large enough to hold them. Set over medium-high heat and add 1/4 cup of water, to help things along. Eventually the grapes will burst and things will start bubbling; reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and mash the grapes with a fork or potato masher so that more juice releases. Cook for about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool completely. Strain through a fine mesh sieve (or a nut-milk bag or cheesecloth), pressing and/or squeezing to extract as much juice as possible. Compost or discard the pulp and stems, then decant your juice into a jar and store in your refrigerator for up to a week. Depending on how strong or pulpy your juice is, you may want to dilute it with a little water before drinking. Also know that it’s verrrrrrrry tasty mixed with our apple cider!
Here’s what’ll be at markets this weekend:
Bartlett pears — this is probably the last of them
Suffolk red grapes
Nittany (new this week!)
Northern Spy (new this week!)
Baldwin (new this week! Also fun fact: a century ago this was the cool apple.)
And of course our fresh-pressed cider, in Honeycrisp and U.V. processed varieties
See you out there!