Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Return of the Grapes of Wrath

In June I posted about our garden and shared some pictures of our grape trellis and how big it has grown. There is also a picture of the little grape buds that were promising a nice crop. Well the time has come to harvest that crop and here is the bounty.

One vine produces a green seedless table grape. The variety's name is called Himrod. Fully ripened they are quite sweet but I had to jump on harvesting this in mid August because the birds were quickly making a meal of them. I juiced these and then strained the juice to make a white grape juice concentrate that I then bottled it for later use. 

The other vine produces a variety called Catawba grape. (Don't ask me how to pronounce that.) It has seeds and has a sort of slimy insides (I think the concord is similar this way). Not really a table grape, although I guess this variety is good for juice, wine and jelly making. I chose the juice and jelly options.

Grape processing isn't really that complicated. First you have to wash the grapes and remove them from the stems.  Then you crush them with the food processor, chopper, or potato masher. Then you dump them in a big pot, add some water and let them cook and soften up a bit. I forgot to take pictures of those steps, but here is a picture of the pot I used. You can see the level of the crushed grapes in this big stock pot. There were a lot, which became a problem.

I realized my folly when it came time to strain the grapes through the cheese cloth. For that amount I needed a huge strainer or a lot of little ones. I didn't have a big enough bowl to strain all those grapes at the same time so I fashioned three little ones. Doesn't that look lovely in a gross slimy Halloween sorta way?

Anyway after I strained it all off, I ended up with about a gallon of really sweet pink/purple grape juice. I used about 11-12 cups of that to make 22 half pint jars of  grape jelly (8 of those are a grape crab apple jelly mix). Then I used the last 3 cups to make some grape juice. I added about a cup of sugar and boiled it to get it to dissolve then I added 3-4 cups of water. It was better than any store bought juice, hands down.

The awesome thing is that these grape vines have been so easy to grow. All we had to do this spring was to prune it back a little and then let them grow. Next year I want to put a net over it so the birds don't eat up my green grapes too soon.

* I made two posts today, and I  don't want anyone to miss the two pictures I posted of little Cara. So check that out too.

Updated Photos

 She looks so different already! I just wanted to post some updated photos of  Cara that show better how she looks. We went to the doctor the other day and she is already 7 oz over her birth weight. Isn't she just the sweetest thing?

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