Concord grapes are rather labor intensive and difficult to find. Their availability tends to be limited to the autumn months and the idea of removing the skins and seeds might seem off-putting. Don't let this be a deterrent! Simply pinch the non-stem end and the pulp will burst through the other side. Once you get the hang of it, this step takes less than 5 minutes to complete. After the grape pulp is cooked down, the seeds are easily separated when the pulp is pressed through a metal sieve with the back of a spoon. Finally, add everything back into your saucepan — pulp, skins, cranberries and lastly, flavor enhancers and thickeners.
The flavor is meant to be on the sour side, with the sweetness of the grapes and a little sugar balancing out the cranberries. However, the sugar content can be adjusted to suit individual preference. I recommend adding the sugar in increments, tasting the filling as you go.
The crust can be made a day or two ahead, as it needs a period of refrigeration before baking. I find that this prevents cracks from forming. For a prettier presentation bake the tart the same day that you will be serving it.
From a nutritional standpoint, concords are a super-fruit from the berry family. They are recommended by The American Heart Association for their polyphenol (phytonutrient) content, which help keep the blood vessels and arteries clear of sticky LDL or "lousy" cholesterol and maintain arterial elasticity allowing for easier blood circulation. According to The American Institute for Cancer Research, dark grape skins are especially concentrated in a long list of antioxidants including resveratrol and anthocyanin. Both are shown to inhibit cellular damage by decreasing inflammation and cellular oxidative stress thereby diminishing the development or growth of cancer cells. Studies show other potential benefits of consuming dark pigmented grapes include: improved cognitive health, blood sugar/insulin stabilization and slowing the effects of aging.
Cranberries possess many of the same anti-oxidative compounds found in concord grapes, aiding the body in the prevention of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, bacterial infections and tooth decay.
Now that you're armed with all of this information, grab your aprons, get baking, and don't forget to share copies of the recipe!
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3 cups gluten-free oat flour or 3 cups rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup light brown or coconut sugar
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup solid coconut oil, at room temperature
4 - 5 cups Concord grapes
1/2 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
1/3 cup light brown or coconut sugar
2 - 3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 cup reserved dough crumbs, see directions*
2 tablespoons rolled oats
*Cook's Notes: Make sure that the oil is spreadable. It should be neither solid nor completely liquid before combining it with the flour. This can be achieved by microwaving the oil for about 15 seconds or refrigerating for about 10 minutes, depending on the consistency.
If using rolled oats, pour into a high speed blender or food processor and grind into a flour consistency.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar, pressing out any lumps. Stir in the raisins or dried cranberries until fully coated with flour. Combine the oil with the flour and mix by hand until a crumbly dough forms. The dough should hold together when squeezed. Set aside 1/2 cup of dough crumbs in a sealed container for the topping. Press the remaining dough into the sides and then the bottom of the tart pan. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
Separate the grapes from the skin by gently squeezing the pulp through the stem end into a bowl, reserving the grape skins for later use. Pour the pulp into a sauce pan and cook on medium-high until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl using a metal mesh sieve. Use the back of a spoon to press the pulp through the sieve. Discard the seeds and return the pulp and all of its juices to the pan. Stir the grape skins, cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, orange zest and juice into the pulp mixture. Cook over medium-high heat for another 5 minutes, or until it thickens, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Pour the filling into the chilled tart shell, using a rubber spatula to spread the fruit evenly over the bottom of the crust. Combine the reserved dough with the oats. Sprinkle over the filling in any pattern desired. Bake at 350ºF for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Yield: 8 servings