A friend has allowed us to pick grapes for several years from the small backyard plot his father planted years ago. The vines have gone mostly untended for a dozen years. We have pruned out some deadwood here and there. There used to be several varieties in the planting. But now it is reduced to mostly Concords.
Concord was introduced in 1849 by E.W. Bull of Concord, Massachusetts as a seedling of the wild Labrusca. It’s great strength is that it adapts to a variety of conditions, and as Hedrick notes in the Cyclopedia of Hardy Fruits, it is “vigorous, hardy, healthy, productive”–which our experience bears out.
It is not a grape of the highest quality, lacking the “richness [and] delicacy of flavor and aroma” required of a good wine grape. Likewise, the skin is tough and astringent, seeds are many, the “skin cracks and the berries shell from the stems after picking,” and it does not ship well (Hedrick).
But for home use and dependability, Concord is hard to beat. and with many hands making the work lighter, one good washtub full of Concords will make a great supply of juice and jelly–7 gal. of juice and nearly 2 gal. of jelly in our case.
To make the jelly we followed the recipe that comes in the Sure-Jell box. To make the juice we put two cups of berries and one cup of sugar in a half gallon jar, filled the jars with boiling water, put on rings and lids, and water bathed the combo for 10 minutes. This recipe comes to us from Charlotte Brooks of Jonesville, Virginia. It is custom in her family to open the first jar of juice at Thanksgiving. We intend to follow suit. Our jelly, however, we have already gotten into–beats anything you’ll get at the store.