Have you ever bought Welch's Grape Juice? Then you have had concord grapes. They have an unique rich flavor all their own. During September and October you can find fresh concord grapes at some grocery stores and definitely at farmer's markets. A lot of people might be turned off by the fact they these grapes have seeds, making out of hand eating more of a challenge. Most of us are use to eating seedless green, red, or black grapes. When we encounter a seeded grape, we don't know what to do. Is there a way to have our cake (or grapes in this case) and eat it too? The Thomcord Grape has arrived to save the day.
What is the Difference Between Concord and Thomcord Grapes?
If you have been to a Kroger store or Trader Joe's store in late July to early August you might have noticed some grapes called Thomcords. They look a lot like the Concord grape, in fact they are pretty hard to tell apart from the naked eye. The packaging claims these grapes have a Concord-like flavor. But how are they different from Concords? Thomcord grapes are a cross between a Thompson Seedless Grape - which is one of the popular green grape varieties - and a Concord. Don't worry this is NOT some kind of crazy genetically modified grape. It was developed grape breeders working for the Agricultural Research Service in 1983. It wasn't actually released to grow until 2003.
Concords are considered slip skin grapes, which means the skin easily comes off when you bite into them. The Thomcord did not pick up this trait, rather the skin stays on more like it's Thompson parent. As it comes to seeds, no grape is truly seedless, just the seeds are so undeveloped we can't taste them. The Thomcord seeds I find to be bigger than a Thompson, but still small enough to be considered a seedless grape. One grower seems to have bigger seeds in their Thomcords to the point of which I didn't like. The ones I have had from Trader Joe's and Brandt Farms have never had that issue.
Another different of the Thomcord grape is the growing condition is favors. It likes hot, dry growing conditions just like it's parent the Thompson. Concords prefer a more humid climate - which is why you don't see true Concords grown much in California.
How to Use Thomcord Grapes
They are just excellent for out of hand eating. Use them as you would any in any Concord grape recipe. They will save you time since you don't have to mess around with the seeds.
Where to Buy Thomcord Grapes?
Here are some places that I know sell Thomcords. Look for them the last half of July to the first half of August. I will add more locations if I find them.
Whole Foods Market
Kroger (Ypsilanti, MI & Ann Arbor, MI)
Whole Foods Market (Ann Arbor, MI)
Safeway (Roseville, CA - Farmers Fresh Food Company)
Where Can I Buy a Thomcord Plant?
Want to grow your own Thomcord grapes? YOu can buy them through Stark Bros. I currently have two peaches tree growing in my front yard that I got from them.