First there was an ode, then came the float, pictured at right. Concord grapes are an early fall crop that show up in New York farmers’ markets in the latter half of September. Although they were developed for the New England climate, they’re grown all over the United States (although mostly in the northern states). Unless yours is a very large or sophisticated grocery store, you will probably not find Concord grapes on its shelves. Farmers’ markets are your best bet, followed by health food stores that carry a good selection of produce. Chances are you don’t have a bottle of orange flower water hanging around in your pantry as it’s not a commonly used ingredient in this country. If you need to locate some, try a store that has a well-curated herb and spice section. If you can wait for it to be shipped, it can be found easily enough online. (What to do with the rest of bottle once you’ve made grape syrup? Splash it in your bath. No kidding. It smells heavenly.)
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
Dietary ConsiderationPeanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Type of DishBeverage, Non-alcoholic Beverage
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) Concord Grape Syrup (see below)
- 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) plain cold seltzer
- 1 (4-ounce) scoop vanilla ice cream
- 3 1/2 pounds fresh Concord grapes, stemmed
- 1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) cane sugar
- 2/3 cup (5.4 ounces) water
- 5 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon orange flower water (optional)
Place the grapes, sugar, the 2/3 cup water, and lime juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Decrease the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, let cool for 10 minutes, and stir in the orange flower water.
Place a strainer over a bowl and pour the grape mixture into it in manageable batches, using a wooden spoon to mash the mixture against the mesh of the strainer. Discard the seedy mash that remains in the strainer. Let the syrup cool to room temperature and chill before using.
Pour the syrup into a fountain glass and add seltzer until the glass is two-thirds full. Stir gently with a soda spoon to combine. Then, scoop a very firm 4-ounce ball of ice cream and “hang” it on the inside rim of the glass. Add the remaining seltzer to fill the glass. Serve immediately.
Store the syrup in covered glass jars or plastic containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, but watch it, grapes do ferment! The syrup may also be frozen in plastic containers for up to 3 months. If frozen, allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
To make a Concord grape soda, fill a 12-ounce glass halfway with ice, add 1/4 cup (2 ounces) of Concord Grape Syrup, top with seltzer, and stir gently with a soda spoon to combine.
2014 Gia Giasullo & Peter Freeman