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Looking Closer at the Concord Grape: What? Where? Nutritional Facts?

Concord grapes growing on vine

Here's everything you need to know about the rare Concord Grapes, its interesting history, resilient properties, health benefits and a few interesting FAQ.

Look at those gorgeous little orbs, all bundled together like cozy purple planets. The Concord grape isn’t commonly seen in markets, considering that their harvesting window is a rather short one. If you just so happen to spot them (around mid-September!) snatch em’ up quick! There are tons of health benefits to Concord grapes, they have a rich history, and they are rather self-sufficient.

Back in the Good Ol’ Days…

In the 1850’s Ephraim Wales Bull made the effort of foraging for the Vitis Labrusca grape (better known as the Fox grape) to bring home and farm. He collected 22,000 of these seeds and tended to them until they grew into what we know today as the Concord grape.

Appropriately named after Concord, Massachusetts, where this event occurred, Mr. Bull was awarded first place at the Boston Horticultural Society Exhibition for his superior grape breeding. The grape was brought to market in 1854, where Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch (recognize that last name?) used the grapes to make into juice.

Part of the Vitasceae family, Concord grapes today are the staple product used for grapes juices, decorative centerpieces, and are the go-to for the production of Kosher wine! The major growing areas are the Finger Lakes of New York, Southwestern Michigan, Yakima Valley in Washington, Lake Eerie & Ontario, and don’t forget about the wild!

Fun fact: the oldest sacramental winery in the United States called O-Neh-Da Vineyard, still produces Concord grape wine strictly for communion.

The Super Fruit!

bunch of concord grapes on the table

If an eggplant and midnight sky had a baby, you’d be close to the incredible color of the Concord grape. These incredible berries come fully prepared to face the elements. The chalky texture on their skin is actually called a bloom, or more scientifically, epicuticular wax. 

The protective layer is only found on land plants, and is ultra hydrophobic, meaning it naturally decreases the surfaces ability to get wet (like how rain rolls off of your raincoat). The bloom also reflects away ultraviolet light, so that the grapes can combat the harsh sun. The texture is “anti-climb”, so bugs don’t stand a chance on this slippery marble!

Concord grapes contain large seeds and are heavily aromatic. They’re considered “slip-skin”, meaning the skin is easily separated from the flesh. One of the coolest things about Concord grapes is that they possess a chemical called methyl anthranilate, which has two wild purposes. Firstly, it serves as a natural bird repellent, the bloom is indigestible to birds. This chemical is also used as a natural dye, so the next time you see purple soda or purple candy, there’s a good chance it’s thanks to the Concord grape!

Good For Your Health

Grapes nutritional facts chart
Grapes nutritional facts chart

One cup of Concord grapes contains all of these wonderful things: a mere 62 calories, 2 milligrams of sodium, 175 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of total carbohydrates, and 0 grams of fat/cholesterol.

It would be in anyone’s best interest to incorporate Concord grapes into their daily diet (freeze them when they’re out of season!) for these reasons. They contain Polyphenols, these are micro-nutrients found in most plant-based foods and have anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidants in Concord grapes keep the skin healthy, the brain alert, and the heart happy.

Vitamin C promotes Gamma Delta T Cell growth, these guys send signals to your immune system. The more you have, the stronger your immune system will be. They also contain Resveratrol, this is a flavonoid that decreases blood pressure, relaxes arterial walls, and helps protect against mutations. This is especially effective for breast tissue, and aids in cancer prevention practices.

FAQ

Will Concord grapes ripen after being picked?

Unlike other fruits, Concord grapes will not continue to ripen after they’ve been picked. For this reason, ensure they are ideally ripened before harvesting.

What are Concord grapes good for?

Everything! They’re excellent for winemaking, juice making, jelly making, and they’re excellent for your health. Their main beneficial property is anti-oxidants: aiding in anti-inflammation and healthy blood vessels.

Can I prune a Concord grapevine?

Absolutely! These plants are incredibly tough, and they benefit from some trimming as well as your own hair would. This is a trial and error based practice, but if it’s not fruiting enough trim it! If you think you’ve trimmed it too much, you haven’t. They are resilient and thrive with the opportunity for new growth.

When are Concord grapes in season?

Concord grapes are ready for harvest in mid-September. It’s a short window of opportunity, so be swift!

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