Fall means a few things in western New York. Miserable, cold, windy, nasty, drizzly days such as today. Gorgeous fall foliage, unless you have a previous day that blows it all away before you can enjoy it. And grapes. Lots and lots of grapes. I wasn’t impressed with the Fredonias this year, which are an early type of Concord. I thought the white Niagaras were very yummy, but quite small compared to last year. It made me somewhat nervous as to how the Concords would be this year.
I shouldn’t have worried. These are as plump as they were last year, and maybe just a bit less sweet. Last year was a fabulous year for pretty much everything around here. This year, not quite as much. Ever since I started browsing my old cookbooks, I’ve wanted to try a recipe I’ve seen a couple of times. Grape catsup.
The recipe is simple enough. 4 pounds of grapes, 2 cups of sugar (I used a combo of white and brown, as the recipes seem to bounce between the two), 2 cups vinegar, 2 teaspoons ground cloves, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon allspice. I also added a pinch of salt, and a smidgeon of cayenne pepper. Bring all ingredients to a boil, and then lower to a simmer for 1 hour. Then out comes our old friend, the food mill. Run the mixture through the mill, or a fine sieve. Each grape generally has three seeds, so you need to do this otherwise you’ll end up with broken teeth. Skins generally cook tender, so don’t worry if you don’t get all of them out.
Remember to wear an apron or clothing that you don’t mind getting stained. It is inevitable that you will get this mixture on you. It’s a messy process. You will also have purple fingers for a while. Be careful if you have a porcelain sink as well, as it will be a lovely shade of blue if you do not rinse any of the catsup out of your sink immediately. After your catsup boils for about another hour and reduces in half, you are ready to bottle it up. Remember to dunk your bottles and lids in boiling water. The catsup should thicken up as it cools. This recipe says it makes about 2 quarts. I got about 6 cups out of my batch, but I made this with 3 pounds of grapes and adjusted the recipe accordingly.
This will be great with anything. I think with sweet potato fries it will be amazing. I am going to put some in Greek yogurt and mix it up for breakfast tomorrow. This is tangy and sweet, with all the proper catsup flavoring, but more like a syrup… I think it would even work with pancakes!!