A recap of my tour of Welch’s Concord grape vineyards and a crash course on cooking with Concord grape juice!
Last week, I traveled to the lush green state of Washington. And by green and lush, I mean the desert of Washington. Who knew Washington had terrain like this? Made for a beautiful run though on the day I arrived.
Why Washington you ask? It’s one of the homes of the Concord grape and Welch’s manufacturing facility. The other major region for producing Concord grapes is the Finger Lake region in Upstate, NY. Concord grapes grow well in these climates because of the differential in temperatures between the day and night. They also need over 40 days under 40 degrees. That’s why these regions are also big wine producers as well. Did you know that Washington state is the 2nd largest producer of wine in the country next to California?
So why am I trippin over Concord grapes? A number of reasons. Here we go:
- Concord grapes are packed with poyphenol antioxidants. Did you know that 77% of the antioxidants are located in the seed?! Good thing Welch’s presses the seeds into its juice to retain the antioxidant content. Who knew?! Better get crunchin’ on those seeds :).
- Welch’s has done a TON of research on Concord grapes and they’ve found that drinking 100% Concord grape juice helps support a healthy heart.
- They’re packed with full body robust taste – making them perfect for culinary use!
It was pretty cool to watch the process of making Welch’s 100% Concord grape juice, from the vineyard to the cup.
This machine right here is called a harvester and it shakes the grapes off the vine, separates any large leaves or stems, and collects them in a large tub to drive off to the plant.
Did you catch this baby in action? Check out my Instagram to see the video.
Welch’s growers have the Concord grapes to the plant within 8 hours max from the time they were picked. Talk about a quick turnaround!
Once we were inside the plant, we got to taste the juice right off the line before it was filtered. The flavor was so robust – it was absolutely delicious. And the aromas! Oh my gosh. I love the smell of Concord grape juice and that’s all you smelled when walking around the facility.
My RD friend, Robin Plotkin (one of the masterminds behind Blog Brûlée), is on Welch’s Advisory Board and has done some fun recipe development for Welch’s using 100% Concord Gape Juice. She led a cooking demo and made a couple delish recipes for us to taste – Peanut Butter, Grape & Chocolate Snack Bites (which were like PB&J energy balls) and Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.
She also taught us a few simple ways to use 100% Concord grape juice as a flavor-booster in the kitchen:
- Use grape juice as a substitute for cooking with wine
- Use it in a salad dressing! 2 parts oil, 1 part vinegar & a splash of juice
- Make oatmeal or quinoa with grape juice instead of water
- Reduce it! Create a grape juice reduction to drizzle as a syrup on pancakes, waffles, etc.
Hungry for more? Check out Welch’s website for a host of different recipes using their 100% grape juice.
Learn more about their unfiltered line, Farmer’s Pick, in a post I wrote a few month’s back.
BIG thank you to Welch’s for inviting me on this fun, informative trip!
What a fun experience! I love your pictures. I will definitely try adding grape juice to a salad dressing.. interesting idea!
Thanks, Julie! Let me know what you think about the salad dressing! Nice way to add some sweetness.
So fun – loved the recap and the photos. I lucked out and got some local Concord grapes in my recent CSA share -think I’m going to make a syrup like you suggested!
Thanks, Deanna! So jelly (pun intended) of your Concord grape stash. I’d love to get my hands on some asap. Crazy that their harvest only lasts 30 days. Short & sweet! Can’t wait to see what you use that syrup on 🙂