A True Upstate New York Indulgence
Those who don’t live in Upstate New York are likely to be most familiar with our lake-effect snow and our emerging Finger Lakes wine scene. Rieslings, however, aren’t the only means of elevating local grapes. Thanks to a few enterprising Naples bakers, our region is also famous for baking its concord grapes into a delectable pie.
A Rich History
The stories behind Upstate New York’s regional delicacies fall on a spectrum from mystery to legend. Grape Pie is among those whose origins are well-known and verifiable, due in part to the fact that it’s a relatively new phenomenon. The Naples concord grape pie we know today is a product of the Twentieth Century, the result of a collaboration between a local restauranteur named Al Hodges and an enterprising baker named Irene Bouchard. It was first sold at the Redwood Restaurant and out of Mrs. Bouchard’s home, but today the grape pie is a cornerstone of the Naples Grape Festival, where an estimated twenty thousand are sold each year.
An Evolving Recipe
Unlike some other regional favorites, the grape pie can take on a variety of forms, many of which are showcased at the Naples festival’s annual Grape Pie contest. Different varieties of grapes, variations in thickening agents, and the addition of lemon keep even local aficionados on their toes. Just take a look at the ingredients lists of two well-known Naples bakers.
Irene Bouchard’s Ingredients
- 5 1/2 cups Concord grapes, washed
- About 1 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of the grapes
- 1 tablespoon tapioca
- Pastry for a 9-inch pie
- 4 cups stemmed Concord grapes
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Katy’s Best-Ever Pie Crust
In the spirit of variety, we’re not going to give you just one recipe, but rather encourage you to find your favorite. For a few good options, check out Monica’s Pies, Home in the Finger Lakes, and Genius Kitchen.