I often find myself underwhelmed by fruit. If you get a ripe piece, perfectly in season, it is a burst of flavor. The other 364 days of the year you’re left with a piece of produce that is too mushy or too firm, completely flavorless, and an absolute waste of time and money. And fruit as dessert? That was, in the past, a laughable idea to me. This all changed the first time I tried the fruit of my dreams: the Concord grape. Concord grape actually tastes like grape!
Have you ever eaten a box of grape Nerds and thought, “Why don’t real grapes taste like this?” Or popped a grape Hi-Chew into your mouth and wished something in nature could replicate that sweet taste? This is exactly how I felt. No fruit had ever been able to do fruit flavoring justice.
A few years ago, I joined a CSA (a community-supported agriculture program) to expand my palate for fruits and veggies. Each week, I received a large box of locally grown items that I picked up at a local restaurant. I got everything from common stuff I knew I liked (like oyster mushrooms and arugula) to more obscure items I found out I didn’t enjoy (sorry, scarlet queen turnips). The element I dreaded having to use up each week was always the fruit.
What would I do with seven bosc pears, a fruit so flavorless and grainy that it practically disintegrates when you look at it? How would I finish a pint of kiwi berries—small, fuzzy orbs that made my mouth itch? The fruit situation seemed hopeless until Concord grapes came into play.
These grapes were much smaller than the grapes my mom had stocked our fridge with as a “snack” when I was growing up. Their color was much more visually pleasing, too. Their deep purple, almost blue hue made them look fake. While they were beautiful, I was skeptical. They were, after all, still fruit.
The woman at the stand insisted I try one immediately. “They’re incredible. You’ll love them.” I was not looking forward to trying them and having to pretend I liked them or, even worse, admit to a farmer that I don’t like fruit. This would be the ultimate faux pas at my very cool Brooklyn farm stand.
But the second I popped one of these Concord grapes into my mouth, I was speechless. Absolutely floored. It was, by far, the most flavorful piece of fruit I had ever tasted in my entire life. The flavor was so delicious, I didn’t even care that it was filled with seeds. I quickly excused myself and rushed home to eat every single grape I had been given.
After finishing them within minutes of arriving at my apartment, I turned to the internet to assist me in acquiring more of my new favorite food. With minimal research, I learned that most grape jellies, juices, and candies are made with or modeled after the Concord grape. It all made sense. Grape is the most delicious flavor of candy and the Concord grape is the most delicious fruit.
Now, I live to spread the gospel of the Concord grape. I’m not sure if the other types of grapes are trying to hide the deliciousness of the Concord so these inferior grapes aren’t forgotten about entirely. I’m not sure if other Concord grape lovers are attempting to gatekeep this perfect fruit in hopes to keep them all to themselves. All I know is that my life became significantly better when I found out about the Concord grape, the candy of fruit, and I encourage you to stop whatever you’re doing right now to go get some.