You may recall the stunning Concord grapes that I spoke of last week, which I stumbled across at my local farmer’s market. Like many of the beautiful fruits and vegetables I scored there, I had no idea what I was planning to do with them once they made it home. The prospect of a finished dish was a mere glimmer in my eye! What, you didn’t want to eat them plain, you ask? You didn’t want to savor their exquisite taste and let them melt in your mouth one by one? Why spoil that wondrous flavor? Don’t fret, fellow foodies– we did some of that too! They were definitely enjoyed and appreciated on their own. But seeing a large bowl of those handsome things sitting on my counter stirred my need for self-expression, which often manifests itself in the form of a new recipe creation. This is also known as: I got a wild hair up my you-know-what, and yearned to whip up a festive fall dish. Those grapes just kept looking at me with their sly ‘’come hither’’ stare, and I couldn’t let them down! I initially considered making a Concord grape tart. The thought of it cooling on a rack in my kitchen made me deliriously giddy. However, I went dairy-free (on behalf of Gray’s poor tummy) at the beginning of July, and I’ve been surprisingly diligent about staying away from butter and milk ever since. Hence, a tart wasn’t really in the proverbial cards. Certain things may lend themselves to dairy-free substitutes but, in my humble opinion, a pie isn’t one of them! I can just picture Julia Child rolling over in her grave at the mere thought of it. So I began to mull over a few other ideas that were more conducive to my Gray-friendly “diet.” The idea of a sorbet crept into my consciousness, and then I just couldn’t let it go. I set aside some ‘’Mommy Me-time,” (during which my husband took care of our daughter…thank you for indulging me, honey!!) and started prepping for my frozen masterpiece.
Here’s the scoop. Pun intended. I’d read that I could remove the seeds (those snarky little pebbles) and skins, by popping the grapes into a food processor and pulsing for a minute or so. This made me nervous, as I didn’t want to destroy the integrity of the grapes. If I’m being honest, I also love getting my hands a little dirty. What’s the fun of cooking, if the food processor does all of the work for you? So I set to pinching the skins off~ one grape, by one seemingly endless grape. Some might call it OCD; I call it fun… for the most part, that is. Admittedly, I may try for the food mill next time, integrity be damned. If I’m being completely candid, this part of the process was a pain in the rear end. That said, the work is mindless, so I got into a rhythm after a while. I zoned out into the cooking oblivion, as I listened to Edith Piaf warble away in French. Certainly not a bad way to spend an hour of quiet time! There may also have been a glass of wine involved, so that may have played a role in it too. Once I was done de-stemming and de-skinning, which sounds more barbaric than it is, I put the juice and remaining pulp (seeds still in tact) into my food processor. The seeds are far more resilient than the skins– as far as I can tell– so this seemed like a good time to let technology take over. I pulsed the food processor a few times and, sure enough, the seeds easily separated from the rest of the grape. I was relieved to see it wasn’t the pulverizing annihilation I’d anticipated. Eureka! I strained it all through a fine mesh strainer, added simple syrup and lemon juice, and started to dump the mixture into my ice cream maker (if you thought my inner Martha Stewart was going to suggest a hand-crank ice cream maker, no such luck!). Suddenly, I realized I was missing something. I waltzed over to my spice cabinet, and pulled out a small glass jar. It’s a jar that beams me to my happy place every time I open it, because it contains one of my favorite spices: cardamom. A dash of cardamom seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. It added an exotic touch that gave the mixture an other-worldly aroma. Pouring the juice into my pre-frozen ice cream cylinder, I watched as the machine spun. You know how you can watch your child go around the merry-go-round for ages before you realize you’re getting dizzy? It was kind of like that. After a few minutes, I decided my hovering wasn’t doing any good, and I left the ice cream maker to do its job. After thirty-five minutes or so, my pièce de résistance was ready for consumption. My husband and I smiled as we ate spoons full of the sweet treat… it was incredible! I only wish I’d made more. So that said, you may want to consider doubling this recipe!
The “Flying High on the Concord Grape” Sorbet
Recipe created by Jenna von Oy
1 ½-2 lbs Fresh Concord grapes
½ cup Water
½ cup Granulated sugar
4 tbsp. Fresh Lemon juice (approx. 1 lemon)
1/3 tsp. Cardamom (finely grated)
~Pre-freeze your ice cream maker bowl insert for at least 24 hours.
~Pinch skins off each grape, reserving all juice and pulp-coated seeds in a separate glass bowl. (If you are braver than me, you can try putting the grapes—skins and all— directly into the food processor instead!) Once you have de-skinned and de-stemmed the grapes, put all of the juice and pulp into the food processor. Pulse a few times, to separate seeds. Pour into a fine mesh strainer (with a bowl underneath to catch the juices), and use a spoon or spatula to thoroughly press all of the pulp, until the juices have been extracted. When you are done, only the seeds and pulp should remain in the strainer. Discard the seeds and pulp. If you compost, even better!
~In a small saucepan, over low-medium, heat water and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then let cool. This is your simple syrup.
~Once simple syrup has cooled, add it to the Concord grape juice. Stir in lemon juice and cardamom. Place your pre-frozen ice cream maker insert into the ice cream maker. Turn on the machine and pour the grape mixture into the bowl insert. Allow the sorbet to mix in the machine for at least 30-35 minutes. You may want to put it into an airtight container and freeze it for a bit afterwards, if you prefer a more solid sorbet. This recipe makes enough for about ten scoops– depending on how generous your scoops are, of course!
Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,