Grape pie - why so uncommon?

Why is it so unusual to find grape pies for sale in restaurants and bakeries? Fruit pies like: apple, cherry, peach, blueberry, and strawberry are staples…but grape pies? I don’t think I’ve ever seen grape pies on a restaurant dessert menu. It’s not like grapes are an uncommon or unpopular fruit - is there something about grapes (the skins maybe?) that makes them challenging to bake with? Is there perhaps something about the flavor or texture of grapes that diminishes in the oven?

I know that concord grape pie is a regional dish in parts of NY state and Pennsylvania. I’ve never had it, but it sounds good.

I googled grape pie recipes and saw some recipes for concord grape pie, so I know that there is such a thing, but why haven’t we seen/heard about more recipes filtering in from the Old World for grape pies, featuring good ol’ vitis vinfera grapes? Was the demand for wine and raisins so great perhaps there were no grapes left for making pies?

I make jelly from concord grapes and never considered making it into a pie because grapes have so much water and seeds.

Look at a couple recipes I see they require separating the skins, then mashing the pulp and removing the seeds, then recombining the skins with the seed-free pulp and waiting several hours.

I may have the patience to do that later this summer when making jelly.

Who has the time/energy to peel all those grapes?


It’s mostly here in western New York rather than the eastern part of the state. And even here they’re rare and seasonal. But I can confirm that grape pie is tasty.

Another mystery: why don’t you ever see grape ice cream? I’ve made it at home and it’s easy to make; just add grape juice to a standard ice cream base. But you never see it being sold.

Mincemeat pie is made from dried grapes/raisins.

It’s usually available at Thanksgiving.

Why waste the grapes on pie when you could make more wine?

My pie book has recipes for raisin pies, grouped with dried fruit pies for winter and emergency pies for funerals. Fresh supermarket grapes may be a little too tasteless.

There was an ice cream place my mother used to take me to when I was a kid that sold grape sherbet. It was what I always picked. Very good.

As far as pies, you need a tart fruit for pies, generally. Only a few types of apples work for pie, for example, and most of them are too tart for eating straight. Try a Red Delicious pie. Yuck. Blueberry pies are made from a certain type of blueberry (which is why they are expensive). They come from Maine, and are really sour if you eat them straight.

Most peach pies call for orange or lemon zest to be added to make them more tart. This is probably why grape pies call for, specifically, Concord grapes. But those have thick peels and seeds. Labor intensive.

There are pies that call for raisins. I have made a rum raisin pie that is pretty good, and if not the best pie in the world, at least a change of pace. I also had an orange-carrot pie once, that had raisins in it. If you have ever had an orange-carrot muffin, same idea, only more like pudding, less like sponge, but it was actually pretty light, and if I had the recipe, I’d make it.

Actually, I guess I could Google the recipe. I had it long before Google, so it never occurred to me before.

RC makes some compelling points: tartness, difficulty with skins and seeds. This might also go a long ways towards explaining the rarity of pomegranate pies as well.

Grapes are too watery and also just are not perceived as a “pie fruit” (although the latter may be something of a circular argument)

Grape pie may not be a thing (although, I definitely saw grapes amongst the other fruits in the multi-fruit frangipane tartlets it seems every Parisian pâtisserie has to have on view), but grape tart (Alsatian) and cake (Tuscan - although the original Schiacciata con l’Uva is more of a sweet focaccia) certainly is.

It’s labor intensive, and there’s not a big enough market for it.
I discovered Concord Grape Pie when I went to school, in Upstate New York. You can buy them roadside in places like Naples, NY, where they grow lots of concord and other Labrusca grapes. I learned how to make the pies myself, and every fall, no matter where I’ve lived, I’ve made at least one Grape Pie.

It’s not that hard to peel the grapes It’s not as if you have to peel the skin off slice by slice, or use some sort of peeler. You simply remove the grape from the bunch , hold it between thumb and forefinger, and pop the grape out. I pop them into a pot, then put the skins aside, because you add them to the mix after de-seeding the grape “meats”.

de-seeding is done by putting the pot full of peeled grapes on the stove and heating slowly toward a boil. If you don’t cover it, you’ll lost liquid. Don’t let it boil, though – the froth will bubble over the top and you’ll lose filling. Stir regularly, until the nuts begin to separate. Then pour the cooked grapes through a strainer into a bowl and press the mass to extrude as much of the grape as possible, leaving the seeds behind.

While it’s still warm, check the strained grapes to make sure no seeds got through, and add sugar to taste (grapes don’t have a consistent amount of sugar. You’ll probably have to add some to keep it from being too tart. Don’t add too much sugar – it SHOULD be somewhat tart. Add whatever thickener you use (I prefer simply using flour, but some people use corn starch or even tapioca. I refrain from doing violence to them, because at least they’re perpetuating grape pie culture.) add the skins, and let it all set while you make and roll out your pie dough. Fill the crust, put on the pie upper crust (I like a woven lattice crust). Bake for 10-15 minutes at 450 F, then reduce heat to 350 and let bake until you can see the filling has turned purple and bubbling, and your crust is just turning brown. This is supposed to take 40 minutes, but always seems to take longer.
I have used other varieties of Labrusca grapes when I can get them, usually from wine makers (It’s hard enough to find Concord grapes at supermarkets or farm stands) – Alden, New York, etc. I really want to try Niagara, Catawba, and especially Diamond, but I haven’t been able to find them. I once tried “seedless” concord grapes, figuring that I could save the de-seeding step, but it was a disaster. The Seedless Concord Grapes wouldn’t “peel” easily, and it took forever and didn’t taste right.

If you haven’t had grape pie, I highly recommend it. It has the “foxy” taste of Concord that you don’t get from, for instance, California Table Grapes, or from European wine grapes.(It’s be interesting to try making a pie from non-American wine varietals), but to say that it tastes like the grapes in jelly or jam give people the wrong impression that it’s like a pie crust stuffed with grape jelly – which isn’t correct at all. The texture is wholly different, and so is the taste (less sweet).

For me, it was Thrify Drug stores that had an ice cream counter. Grape sherbet was available on a “flavor of the month” basis. Always my favorite.

Longtime Michigan residents: did Meijer’s ‘Purple Cow’ ever offer grape ice cream or sherbet back in the day? I can’t seem to recall.

How about an ice cream float, vanilla ice cream in a glass of strong grape juice? Maybe some seltzer for fizz?

Yea I’m going with grapes are too bland. We have Muscadine vines, now those grapes are not bland. The are large , nearly pingpong ball size. I may try a pie and see what its like. The jelly from them is great. I will report back.:slight_smile:

A purple cow float was grape soda with vanilla ice cream. What I don’t recall is whether they actually offered grape flavored sherbet or ice cream.