Since there is nothing more interminable than slip skinning Concord grapes, every year I swear that it’s the last time I am harvesting any more than a bunch of them for munching from my garden. Yet every year the fruit lures me back with promises of chutney and maybe some ketchup or jelly and I fight the mosquitoes, spiders, birds and bees for them and set aside a day for making chutney.
The harvest was weak this year although it seemed that the grapes had a much higher sugar content than last year. A lot of the grapes seem to shrivel on the vines and I did have some “early pilferers.” Turns out that my 16-month-old niece really likes them. So in the end I had to scrounge and go to my neighbor’s yard to get 13 pounds compared to last year’s 15 pounds with tons left on the vines. It took about 4-6 hours to pick the bunches, wash out the bugs, rewash the grapes, pick and slip skin the grapes. The rest of the chutney took about 4 hours. In the end it’s a total love job since the labor blows out any resale value on jars. But since I only do it for myself, friends and family, it works out fine. I do get a thrill once it’s made and I have all the jars to look forward to eating or giving away.
In order to get a good yield from Concord grapes you have to slip the skin off each grape, individually, to separate the skin from the pulp. Then you cook the pulp until it liquefies and strain the seeds from the juice. You could just mill the whole grapes then cook and strain the juice, but you would get less yield and lose the body that the skins give to the chutney.
Brooklyn Purple: Concord Grape, Pear & Ginger Chutney
This is my original recipe. When I decided to try to make chutney from the grapes a few years ago there were no recipes for grape chutney online. The recipe changes slightly each year and this one made about 8 quarts of chutney. I had to start it in two pots and I cooked it down to one. I call it Brooklyn Purple.
- 11 lbs Concord grapes after processing (see above)
- 4 lbs pears, cubed large (I used just under ripe Bartletts—don’t use too ripe pears or they will cook to sauce)
- 6 oz candied ginger, julienned
- 3 oz fresh ginger, julienned
- 3 lbs Vidalia onions, chopped large
- 10 oz dried currants
- 6 oz sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- 3.5 lbs white sugar
- 48 oz cider vinegar
- 8 bay leaves
- 1.5 tsp cayenne
- .5 tsp ground cloves
- 1 T mustard seeds
- 2.5 T kosher salt
- 2 T Freshly ground pepper
To slip the skins off the grapes, you pinch each grape and pop the pulp into a pot and keep the skins in bowl. To process the pulp cook, heat to a boil on a medium-low flame, stirring periodically until it liquefies. Pass through a strainer and discard seeds.
Mix all the ingredients in a huge pot or two big pots. Heat to a gentle boil on a medium-low flame; be very careful to stir it periodically until the chutney turns completely purple and it’s the desired consistency. This recipe took about 3 hours. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water rinse. Sterilize jars by putting them on a sheet pan lined with paper towels and heating for at least ten minutes in a 325° oven. Wait a few minutes to cool the jars slightly then fill with hot chutney. I use a ladle with a spout and still make a mess. I wipe jar edge with a sterile rag and leave cleaning the outside of the jar until they are lidded. Sterilize jar lids by immersing in boiling water. Use thongs to retrieve them. Seal jars and make sure the lids are on tight. Once the jars are cool to touch, I wash the outsides of the jars off. This recipe made about 8 quarts and is ready to be eaten in about a month.
Try it with chicken, turkey, pork, cheese, pate, etc.