Sunday, October 9, 2016

Concords, ripe right now

I hope these grapes appear at the Borough Hall Greenmarket for another few weeks. This is their season, and I wait all year for them. I love Concords, and their green cousins (name forgotten) and Jupiter and Mars - these real grapes with interesting flavours. I can't bear supermarket grapes. Hard balls of one-dimensional sugar.

I think it's funny that the signs says "seeds." The seedless grapes cost a dollar more. I don't know why seeds have never bothered me.

Recently I was re-reading Return to Camdeboo, by Eve Palmer. She grew up on that farm in the Great Karoo in South Africa, and writes about the food that was grown and eaten there, that was cooked there, in old fashioned and then modern kitchens, over generations. And part of the book is lengthy excerpts of letters written to her by her sister-in-law, mid-late 20th century - farm chores, glut, canning, weather. Lots of weather. Eve Palmer's father was passionate about fruit-growing and made a ritual of presenting the harvests, from the kitchen gardens, of each fruit as it ripened. She writes about grapes, about the care taken to protect the bunches from wasps and birds, the cloth bags that covered each bunch, and which were washed and pressed for use the following year. The differences in taste, perfume and appearance. The lineage of the fruit.

In Cape Town, there are hanepoots (Muscat d'Alexandrie) in late summer, pale brown and intensely scented. I am giddy about them if I am there at the right time. I hunt them down. They are rarely in shops, mostly sold at the side of the road, if you know where.

But here, in October, it is the Concord-and-clan season. I like to eat them cold, so I rinse the bunches and keep them in the fridge in a wide China bowl, and take one after dinner. and then another. And sometimes a third.


Otherwise, I am leading one more public forage walk this fall - Saturday, Prospect Park. We enjoyed soaking rain this weekend so...maybe, maybe...


  1. Yum, concords! They were here two weeks ago and delicious. Fortunately, my better half doesn't like seeds so i got them all. Enjoy!

  2. When I was small, we had a huge grape vine behind our house - tiny dark purple grapes, almost black - when ripe, you could easily push the sweet flesh from the skin with your fingers... I used to pop them into my mouth and then eat a handful of the tart skins. I never knew the name, but we called them "katballetjies"!
    In my twenties I was told they are Catawba, which kind of makes sense. Just googled and see it's an American variety - they describe the flavour as musky or "foxy". I haven't had one in years...


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