Concord grapes are a grape variety developed in the Eastern United States during the 19th century. The grapes have a number of uses, and often appear in jams, jellies, grape juice, and sweets. Some companies also make wines from these grapes, although the wines tend to have a slightly dark, musty flavor which some consumers dislike. Concord grape products are readily available in many markets, and the fresh grapes may sometimes be found for sale as well.
Ephraim Wales Bull developed the first Concord grapes, after extensively cultivating a range of New World grapes. It is possible that he crossed his grapes with Old World grapes, but in either case he developed a consistent, very cold hardy grape which was released on the market in 1854. He named his grapes after Concord, Massachusetts, the town very close to his homestead.
The color of Concord grapes ranges from purple to black, and they often have a pale bloom. They have a tart, robust, slightly musky grape flavor, and are not nearly as sweet as many Old World grapes. The skins are easily removed, tending to slip from the fruit inside, especially after a brief blanching, and like all grapes they grow in densely clustered stems. Since this fruit is very hardy, it grown in many Northern states.
One of the earliest commercial uses for Concord grapes was juice. In fact, these grapes were among the first fruits to be commercially juiced and pasteurized so that they would not ferment, creating a non-alcoholic fruit juice product. Grape juice was initially introduced as an alternative to communion wine, although it quickly spread to the rest of the populace as well. The dark, tart juice continues to be produced in high volume, along with products like jam and grape flavoring for sweets.
The purple to black grapes have excellent nutritional value, since they harbor antioxidants and useful vitamins and minerals. For this reason, many consumers like to eat Concord grapes as straight table grapes, when they are available. Unsweetened juices are also a good source of nutrition, or those blended with the juice of sweeter fruits to make a flavorful juice cocktail without added sugars.