Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Juicy, Concord Grapes for a healthy heart!

Last night was our last CSA box from Chubby Bunny Farms for the season. I'll miss the weekly bounty, although I am eager to be able to buy more food from other farms and get to the NYC Farmers Markets more. Until June, Chubby Bunny.....THANKS FOR ANOTHER GREAT YEAR.

Last week, I experimented with broiling Concord Grapes and the results were amazing -- bursty with juiciness -- warm, tangy and naturally sweet all at the same time. I'm going to do them again this week and share the simple, yet delicious and very healthy recipe with you. Those who want the health benefits of red wine but don't want to drink alcohol take note -- Concord Grapes are a SUPERFOOD. For more great recipes using grape juice concentrate check out this link to the New York State Concord Grape Coooperative Website

1 bunch Concord Grapes

1. Wash and remove stems from grapes. Pat grapes dry with a paper towel to remove excess water.
2. Line a broiler pan with foil and spread grapes out so they are not touching each other.
3. Adjust shelf so that the pan is 6-8 inches away from the broiler and if you have adjustable heat set to medium.
4. Broil grapes until they soften and begin to release their juices. Watch carefully as they may be done in 3-7 minutes depending on your broiler.
5. Remove and let cool slightly.
6. Serve hot, at room temperature or cold over yogurt or ice cream or just eat plain.

NOTE: One disadvantage, of course, to local Concord grapes and why you don't see them in the chain grocery stores is the seeds. If you are ambitious or want to serve this juicy compote to guests removing the seeds is not too difficult and strongly. One way is to strain them over a bowl using a fine sieve and picking out the seeds. Once you've removed the seeds, return the pulp to the bowl with
the juices that have collected. I'm too lazy and prefer to just remove the seeds as I eat them occasionally swallowing a few which contain a lot of the antioxidant kick that make Concord Grapes a health food.

Much like red wine, purple Concord Grapes have tremendous cardiovascular health benefits, as well as being beneficial for brain health and to prevent cancer. Concord Grapes (and good quality 100% grape juice) foster heart health by helping maintain blood pressure, reducing "bad" LDL cholesterol and keeping arteries "relaxed" and clean. Grape juice is emerging as a memory booster in older people and is a known to help prevent cancer. Like cranberry juice, grape juice is also good for urinary tract health. With twice the antioxidant level of orange juice, 100% Concord Grape Juice (all natural juice, NO ADDED SUGAR and a brand that keeps the seeds and the skin) is among the most healthful juices on the market. Rich in antioxidant polyphenols, the seeds and the skin to give the dark colored juice much of its superfood power.

Grapes have been around for thousands of years, and New York State is the second largest producer of Concord Grapes in the US. Also known as the "Concord Grape Belt" western New York along Lake Erie has the Grower's Cooperative Grape Juice Company. The cooperative was first organized in 1929 and now has 50 growers producing 20,000 tons each harvest season. Apparently, 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 first non-fermented Concord grape juice was processed in 1869 by a New Jersey dentist named Dr. Thomas Welch. Mr. Welch was the first to use grapes for a non-alchoholic beverage and his grape juice was the first processed juice marketed in America. The Concord grape is an extremely robust and aromatic grape derived from wild native species growing throughout New England in the most rugged soils. A full-bodied grape. For more on the history of the Concord Grape check out this link to the HISTORY OF CONCORD GRAPES in the US

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