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Grape Pie

October 12, 2011

I had never heard of grape pie before meeting my husband. But I am not the only one. In fact when his sister was in grade school, her teacher asked her her favorite type of pie. When she replied, “grape!” without second thought, her teacher didn’t consider this an acceptable answer and told her there was no such thing.

In anticipation of heading up to Rochester, to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws, I had to take a crack at this unique dessert. The one thing that is certain to be on the Thanksgiving table, besides a turkey, is grape pie. In fact my husband’s grandmother has already driven the 70 miles to Naples, NY to purchase ours, from the award-winning Monica’s Pies, to hibernate in the freezer until Turkey Day.

Right now farmer’s markets are overflowing with concord grapes. Usually swarmed by bees, I had the tendency to walk right by the incredibly fragrant, navy clusters. I kept imagining the challenge and time it would take to seed the grapes in order to make a pie, but yesterday I finally took the plunge.

As I imagined, the whole experience was time consuming, yet incredibly rewarding. If you like strawberry rhubarb pie, you will love grape pie. It has a similar custardy, gelatinous consistency and is naturally sweet and tart. The grapes truly stand on their own in terms of flavor, only to be heightened by a small amount of sugar and lemon.

Making a pie is a sensuous labor of love. Your hands are your tools, no knife required. In the end, my fingernails were slightly stained around the edges, but smelled like sweet cream butter from making the crust by hand. Make this pie on a day when you are not pressed for time – to enjoy every smell, texture, color and in the end, incredible taste.

Warning: eat grape pie with loved ones and perhaps don’t serve at a dinner party…it stains your teeth and tongue!

HFR’s Take on Concord Grape Pie:

Makes one 9″ pie


1) Clear your countertops of anything you don’t want to potentially get splattered with grape juice.

2) Wear an apron or something you don’t care about getting splattered with grape juice.

3) Get an early start. It is crucial to let the pie cool completely before cutting into it, or else you’ll find yourself cutting through pie crust into grape soup.


I followed a new recipe for the pastry (slightly different from my usual), except I substituted whole-wheat pastry flour for all-purpose. Should I have followed the recipe verbatim, perhaps I would have been more pleased with the final outcome. The crust was incredibly tender, but not as flaky as I would like. I typically add ice water in small increments, as opposed to adding ¼ cup and incorporating all at once. Here is the recipe link:

My inspiration for the filling was a combination of my own health consciousness, The Joy of Cooking’s Concord Grape Pie and this one from Saveur:

I added lemon zest in addition to juice, used far less than the called for amount of sugar (and used raw) and swapped in agar agar for quick cooking tapioca. Agar agar is a vegetable gelatin made of wild sea vegetables. It is odorless, tasteless and has strong bonding properties.


2 pounds concord grapes, stemmed

1/3 cup raw sugar

3 tablespoons agar agar

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Zest of one lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice (approximately ½ of a lemon)

Pinch of salt


1. For the pastry: see link from Chez Pim (above)

2. For the filling: Slip pulp of each grape out of its skin into a medium saucepan, put skins into a large bowl, and set aside. Cook pulp over medium heat, stirring often, until soft, 8–10 minutes, then strain through a mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on the solids with the back of a spoon. Discard the seeds. Add grape skins, sugar, lemon zest and juice and agar agar to the pulp and bring to a boil until agar agar is fully dissolved.

3. Preheat oven to 400°. Roll the larger dough ball out on a lightly floured surface into a 12″ round, then fit into a 9″ pie plate. Transfer grape filling to pastry bottom and scatter butter on top. Roll the remaining dough ball out on the lightly floured surface into a 10″ round, cut a 1″ hole in center of dough to let steam escape, then cover filling with pastry round. Fold edges of dough under and crimp edges. Bake pie for 20 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350°, and continue baking until pastry is golden brown, 45-50 minutes more. Set pie aside to cool completely.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Christey Robinson permalink
    October 12, 2011 6:12 pm

    Hello to Hanna’s loyal blog-followers from Hanna’s mother-in-law. I have had many grape pies and can attest that they do exist, though you need to travel to the Finger Lakes region to find them. I can only imagine that Hanna’s will be just as good even with the whole wheat pastry flour. Grape pies are a family favorite and I am glad to know that Hanna is on board. The purple teeth are worth every bite. Move over Monica!

  2. Jennifer Crocker permalink
    October 12, 2011 7:08 pm

    Looks delicious to me! I hope to be lucky enough to try one of these one day – whole wheat crust and all! You make it look so beautiful 🙂

  3. LeeLee permalink
    October 12, 2011 7:52 pm

    Can’t wait to try a real Robinson Grape!

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