I was ten years old when my family moved into their current home. At the time, I did not have quite the same aversion to change. I was excited to embrace something new and even more excited at the prospect of a real back yard, complete with a half dozen fruit trees and a grape vine.
I vividly remember the first time I plucked a cluster of grapes off that vine and was shocked to find that not only were their skins very tough, but they had a flavor that I had never tasted outside a bottle of grape juice. It was robust and sugary, nothing like the red and green grapes I had known before.
I was hooked. Red grapes were okay, but Concords were just…different.
My infatuation for the Concord grape has continued unfaded over the past decade. However, the little vine has since died and my sister and I no longer spend our summers squeezing the grapes out of their skins and into our inviting mouths.
Concord grapes can be difficult to find and it is a rare thing that I get to enjoy them. So, you can imagine my delight when I discovered a new variety of grapes at my favorite grocery store. Thomcord grapes. It is a hybrid variety of grape, a cross between a Thomson and a Concord grape. They have all the appeal of the Concords of my childhood, but without the tough skins and pesky seeds.
I brought them home with high hopes and shoved a handful into my mouth while I gathered a myriad of spices. I knew the destiny of these lovely round fruits. There was only one option that could compete with good ol’ out-of-hand eating -- CIDER.
I really love cider. Like, a lot. Hot cider for crisp, chilly evenings. Cold cider for afternoon picnics. Frozen cider slushies for, well, anytime. Anytime that you do not object to a brain freeze.
Here was my thought - why is the apple getting all the attention from the cider world. Other fruits can be made into cider. Other fruits should be made into cider.
Right? Oh good, I am glad you concur.
So I gathered what was left of my bag of grapes and threw them into the blender. Have a fine strainer standing by for duty. In goes the juice and out goes the skins. We don’t want grape skins in our cider (unless that would make it skinny cider.) Hmm…? Nah, who orders skinny drinks anyways. Not me. I’m more of a whole fat, extra sugar, and of course I want the whipped cream, kind of lady.
I digress. Just do yourself a favor and take out the skins.
After you have extracted the juice from your grapes, pour the juice into a saucepan and simmer with a handful of spices. Strain it once more and serve!
I preferred this cider hot rather than cold but the decision is, of course, yours.
It takes me back to snack time at the grapevine and satisfies my most pressing cider cravings.
Happy first day of Autumn!
Spiced Grape Cider
- 3 cups Concord or Thomcord grapes
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 whole cloves
- 8 whole allspice berries
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Place grapes and water in blender and pulse until the grapes have fully broken down. Strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer to remove the skins.
Pour grape juice into a small saucepan and add spices and brown sugar. Place over medium high heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer steadily for 5-7 minutes and then remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes before straining to remove spices. Serve immediately or chill and enjoy later on. Enjoy!