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Razor Blade (Green Grape) Pie

Behind my grandmother's house in Hallettsville, TX grows an epic grape vine. As far as my mother knows, it's at least 70 years old since she's 71 and it's been there as long as she can remember. It's impossible to tell where the vine actually comes out of the ground or where the end of the vines reach, since they're draped and snaked around and through and over a chinaberry or hackberry tree and onto a huge oak in front of the barn. It's a source of wonder for my 9-year old who sees the mass of leaves and branches as a combination shady fort / animal graveyard (found an entire large animal's skeleton underneath) / potential snake lair.

I talked with the extremely nice Lavaca County A&M AgriLife Extension agent in hopes of identifying the variety of grapes. A quick internet search of photos of leaf shapes revealed that they're muscadine, not mustang grapes, but when they're ripe, they're white/green, not the bronze or purple named in A&M literature about muscadine grapes. The agent was also perplexed, so I emailed photos. The verdict is still out. I proudly told him the vine's been there since before my mother was born and he kindly informed me that there are a lot of those kinds of vines in Lavaca County. Whether the vine was planted by my grandparents in the late 1930s or, as my cousin Zoy speculated, it grew from the seeds of far away grapes first eaten and then pooped out by a wandering animal, we'll never know.

Last weekend my mother and son and I picked enough grapes for two razor blade (green grape) pies, in which a sweet custardy filling suspends sour, unripe grapes. Right now, my grandmother's grapes are still small and very tart, and the seeds are just developing, which is exactly how you want them to be for the pie. (The grapes will be ripe and sweet and ready for jelly or wine making in late June most likely.) I found at least a couple of recipes in community cookbooks at the house, but then my mother magically produced my grandmother's own recipe from a plastic bin of handwritten recipes we have yet to really go through. My grandmother continues to assist and watch over us in her house, though she passed away in 2012. Her recipe listed ingredients, but had no procedures, so we turned to a recipe by Mary Stary of Yoakum in the cookbook Sharing Our Best, published by the KJZT in 1994. We combined Ms. Stary's instructions and recipe for the posipka topping with my grandmother's list of ingredients for the filling.

Later, my mother texted me about eating the pie... "Thanks for the step back in time. Biting into a mouthful of those green grapes was yummy and mixed with emotion remembering Mother."

Though the flavor elicited delicious memories for my mom, I made the pie a second time and reduced the amount of sugar and increased the amount of grapes, because, really, the pie was awfully sweet. In general, I prefer not-too-sweet sweets and the zinginess of the unripe grapes was begging to be highlighted more. Increasing the amount of grapes warranted a deep dish crust, too, so below is the final recipe, un-sweetened a bit from my grandmother's version, with process photos.

What I love about the pie is the sweet-tartness, like eating lemon bars or key lime pie. I also love the "treat" aspect of the pie because it can only be eaten at a certain time of the year and you have to have or know someone who has grape vines. You can't walk into HEB or go to a farmer's market for unripe grapes (as far as I know.) In a food culture where we can have anything any time of the year if we want it, it's nice to eat by the seasons every once in a while.

I could not find even one single reference to "razor blade pie" on the internet among the billions and billions of bits of information out there. I don't know if my grandmother made up the name (it's sharp!), or where it came from. If anyone else has heard of this name for green grape pie, please let me know. Otherwise I just copyrighted it. :)

Razor Blade (Green Grape) Pie
adapted from recipes by Anita Kallus and Mary Stary

2 cups green grapes, washed and stems removed
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup juice (from simmering the grapes)
a deep dish pie crust
posipka (recipe below)



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Simmer grapes in water to cover until just tender. Drain (reserving 1/2 cup "juice") and set aside. Sift the flour into the sugar and combine. Beat the two eggs well, then add the juice to them and mix together well. Mix the flour-sugar mixture and the eggs-juice mixture together in a large bowl. Add the drained grapes and combine well.


Pour the pie filling into your unbaked crust. (It looks to me like a pie full of creamed giant peas!)


The pie will bake for 1 hour, but set your timer for 30 minutes when you put it in the oven and make your posipka while it bakes.

Posipka
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 flour
1/4 cup softened salted butter

Combine the ingredients above first with a fork while you mash up the butter, then with your hands to really combine everything into a crumbly mixture.


After 30 minutes of baking, take the pie out and crumble the posipka evenly across the top.


Put the pie back in for another 30 minutes. Let it cool and set before you slice it.


Like most pies, this recipe makes 8 servings if you have little restraint, but 12 servings if you do.




Good things happen when grandmothers and grandsons pick fruit and bake together... pie!

All photos above are by me except the one OF me,
courtesy of pie lover and photographer, Lori Najvar.

Comments

  1. Razor Blade Pie! It sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing the story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a wonderful story and tribute to your grandmother. And now you’re continuing the tradition with your son and his grandmother. That box of your grandmother’s recipes is a true family treasure - along with that huge and amazing grape vine.
    Linda W.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, Linda! I so agree about the family recipes. Handing down recipes is a way to keep giving to your family even after you're gone. :)

      Delete
  3. Thanks for posting this! My grandmother's from the area and remembers her mother making green grape pie with the mustang grapes that grew on their land. She said she always found it a little too sour; maybe the secret to success is those hybridized grapes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for reading! The grapes are still sour in my pie but the sweet custard and buttery pie crust help balance the flavors. Try it if you can (especially if you can get your great grandmother's recipe. That is a treasure!) -Dawn

      Delete
  4. Dawn, I just found your blog thru FB, the cucumber and tomato salad!! I didnt know this was your site, how very secial, proud of you and intrigued! Cousin Karen M

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Karen and thanks for reading. So sorry for the late reply. Hope you're have a delicious summer. -Dawn

      Delete
  5. My aunt told me about being sent out to collect green mustang grapes to make pie when unexpected guest would turn up. I've never eaten it, but now have a greenhouse full of unripe purple grapes, so I may try making a pie with some of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a Texan now living in Scotland, hence the greenhouse full of grapes. :-)

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    2. Sorry for the late comment reply. Scotland!! My older son's father's family is from there. The first time I had rhubarb crumble was the first day we visited Scotland way back when (also has a sour aspect to it.) I'd love to know if you tried the pie and thanks so much for reading. -Dawn

      Delete

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