torek, 30. junij 2009

Concord Grapes

Concord grapes are a cultivar derived from the grape species "Vitis labrusca" (a.k.a. fox grape) which are used as table grapes, wine grapes and juice grapes. The skin of a Concord grape is typically dark blue or purple, and often is covered with a lighter colored "bloom" which can be rubbed off. It is a slip-skin variety, meaning that the skin is easily separated from the fruit. Concord grapes have large seeds and are highly aromatic. They are often used to make grape jelly, grape juice, grape-flavored soft drinks, and candy. The grape is sometimes used to make wine, particularly kosher wine, though it is not generally favored for that purpose due to the strong "foxy" flavor. Traditionally, most commercially produced Concord wines have been finished sweet, but dry versions are possible if adequate fruit ripeness is achieved.

Growing Concord grapes has become quite popular among home growers. The reasons are not hard to find. This variety of grapes has a distinct scent, is deep purple in color, marble shaped and very sweet which makes it the most sought after variety. Though there is a long tradition of grape growing of more than a thousand years, yet people started growing Concord grapes only towards the end of 1800s. Commercial production of grapes dates all the way back to the year 1000 B.C. It was not until the year 1854 that the Concord variety came into being. The Concord grape is named after the Massachusetts village of Concord where the first vines were originally cultivated. The Concord grape is an extremely robust and aromatic grape derived from wild native species growing throughout New England in the most rugged soils.Through experimentation with native seeds, Boston-born Ephraim Wales Bull created the Concord grape in the year 1849. At his farm outside the village of Concord, Bull planted some 22,000 seedlings before he produced the grape he was looking for.the Concord. He was determined throughout his experimentation to produce a variety that was early to ripen and possessed a full bodied flavor. The Concord was a perfect fit for his expectations. In 1853, Bull felt that his new variety should be put before the public and he ended up winning first prize at the Boston Horticultural Society exhibition. News of Bull's variety spread worldwide and hence he was indeed "the father of the Concord Grape". He sold cuttings of his grape for $1,000 a piece and unfortunately died a poor man. His tombstone reads, "He sowed - others reaped".

The first non-fermented Concord grape juice was processed in 1869 by a New Jersey dentist named Dr. Thomas Welch. Dr. Welch and his family gathered up 40 pounds of Concords from a trellis in front of their house. In the kitchen of their home, Dr. Welch cooked the grapes for a few minutes, squeezed the juices out with cloth bags, and poured the world's first fresh Concord grape juice into 12 one quart bottles on the kitchen table. Dr. Welch then processed his juice by stoppering them with waxed corks and boiling them in water, killing native yeasts that would cause his juice to ferment. This method of preservation was a success, and his use of Louis Pasteur's theory of pasteurization labels Dr. Welch as the pioneer of processed fruit juices in America. The first Concord grape juice was used on the Communion table at a local Methodist church for sacramental purposes, and most of the first orders for Concord juice came from churches for Communion. In 1896, Dr. Welch's son, Charles, transferred the juice operation to Watkins Glen, New York and in the following year, to Westfield, New York. 300 tons of Concords were processed in 1897.

In the 20th century, the Concord grape industry boomed. Today, growers harvest more than 350,000 tons of Concords per year in the U.S. Washington grows the largest number, followed by New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri.

Growing grapes like Concord grapes has become a fashion and hobby for the people. Large numbers of people are attracted to their appealing taste and sent which have resulted in people growing Concord Grapes in their backyards. Concord vines spread evenly and are good on arbors and trellises. They grow to such an extent that they can provide enough shade to a large area. Various items like jams, juices and jellies can be prepared from these grapes. The natural color and its taste make it a great choice among home growers. Today growing this variety of grape is becoming increasingly popular among vineyards as well. Ultimately it depends on the tastes of the end users. Some people may prefer a dry aftertaste while other may like a sweet taste. This has resulted in vineyards producing other varieties which have a high commercial value. However recent technical advancements have made it possible to produce dry wine even if Concord grapes are used. Dry wines can be produced from Concord grapes if they are slowed to ripen to a certain extent. Though there are other grape varieties, growing Concord grapes has become popular also because of its incredible versatility. It is not possible to produce other products from most of the other varieties. Several companies like Welch's have grown due to Concord grapes. Experiments in medical science have proved that Concord grapes are beneficial for our body as well. The grapes have antioxidant properties which help to lower the threat of heart diseases. That's the reason there are several products available in the market, prepared from Concord grapes and they have even received approval from the American Heart Association. Due to the increasing demand in the national market, it is an excellent time for growing Concord grapes.

Some people think that growing Concord grapes is tough. On the contrary, it is very easy and one of the easiest varieties to produce. Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York are the largest producers of Concord vines. They can adapt to cooler temperatures much more easily as compared to other varieties as they ripen before the advent of frost. Moreover, these grapes are not as choosy regarding the soil type. They do need soil a certain earth soil type that can retain a fair degree of moisture. Due to its high demand and simple method of growing Concord grapes, it has become a highly productive crop.

How to grown your own grapes?

Growing the Concord Grape for table use or even to make your own wine is not as difficult as it may seem. Ofcourse you need a lot of sun or a Pergola facing the south but once in place you'll love this relaxing hobby

The most difficult part of growing grapes is the hefty amount of pruning required. When pruning, keep in mind that the current seasons growth produces fruit from last seasons wood. Too heavy pruning results in an abundance of foliage, but very little fruit. Too light pruning results in large yields of poor quality fruit. Balance is the key to everything, but very important in this business. Their are no hard and fast rules for pruning it's a matter of learning by doing. Depending on your location, prune grapevines once during winter. However, this can be tricky because you should neither prune vines when sap begins to rise until leaves are fully developed nor during periods of severe frost. Grapes grow new shoots from early spring blossoms. If left unattended, these shoots will transform your grapevine into an unproductive and unruly problem. Remove all weak, thin shoots and leave only the strongest shoot to develop. Flowers from this shoot precede the development of fruit. You want the plant to have the maximum space to grow. So keep the space where you keep your Grape Vines clean of weeds and other plants. Prune shoots back to the third or fourth leaf after the fruits. Remove any new growth. Also remove all leaves from around growing clusters to get maximum sun. Grapes change color long before they are ripe. To avoid picking clusters before they reach their peak, taste the them first. If they aren't ripe, wait for them to develop. Some fruits improve after they have been harvested, grapes don't.

Concord grape products

The Concord grape is not only an outstanding juice producer but also helps fill millions of jars with jams, jellies and preserves--which find their way to breakfast, lunch and dinner tables as well as in sandwiches and snacks. Concord grapes are used in bakery products, confections, yogurt, fruit smoothies, and as a blend in cold duck and wines.

Concord Grape Juice: Processed straight from the grape, deep-purple Concord grape juice--rich in quick-energy sugars -- is marketed in bottles, cans, as frozen concentrate, shelf stable concentrate and in vending machines and fountain dispensers. Delicious all by itself, grape juice can also be an ingredient in pungent hot and icy cold drinks from the punchbowl, blender and bar, in soups, entrees, salads, desserts and frozen specialties.

Concord grape drinks: The Concord grape’s distinctive flavor blends equally well with other juices, and enhances them. Drinks are available as grapeade, apple-grape, cranberry-grape and in ready-to-drink punches mixed with orange, grapefruit, lemon, pear and pineapple juices.

Concord grape jelly: Clear, firm and sparkling, Concord grape jelly is made from the juice of the grape and is firm enough to hold its shape when turned out of its container. Concord grape is America’s favorite jelly flavor.

Concord grape jam: Pureed grapes are cooked with sugar until thick, or “jammed” together. A grape jam patent was first issued to Paul Welch in 1917 for the pureeing of grapes. He called the product “Grapelade.” The initial quantity was purchased entirely by the U.S. Army and shipped to France for consumption by the troops during World War I. The product was then demanded by the troops when they returned to civilian life.

Concord grape preserves: Grapes with their seeds removed are cooked with sugar or in a heavy syrup until tender. The fruit remains whole, and the syrup becomes thick and transparent.

Klemen Peršolja

How To Grow Grapes Now

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