Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Wrath of Grapes

I have to say that processing my 15 gallons of grapes was an interesting experience. It would have been lovely to have been able to take readers' suggestion of using a special steam pot to get the juice. Alas, I had no money to buy one and the grapes were waiting impatiently to be taken care of.

Here are my grapes. As you can see they are a white variety. I believe they were either mislabeled or came up from below the grafting area (if indeed these are grafted vines) because they have seeds and have a very muscadiney flavor. Which isn't what they're supposed to be. They do taste good though.

I was unprepared for the cleaning process. You'd think all you have to do is rinse them right? Oh no, once you start rinsing you realize that there are all sorts of insects that come crawling out of the centers. Earwigs, beetles and other 'things'. All my grapes were rinsed and double bathed in the sink. I gathered bunches of earwigs and threw them out. Can we just say a big "Ewwwww" together?

My first try at juicing the grapes was with this JuiceManJr. My theory (laugh, I know you want to) was that I would get the nutrition of the skin and seed along with the juice by using the juicer. Once again, I was unprepared for what happened. Seeds. Yes, the seeds were spitting out of the machine all over my kitchen. Evidently, this juicer isn't capable of handling the seed situation. You can bet I wasn't going to deseed 15 gallons of grapes. In addition, the bag that was holding the discards (grape waste), was actually very juicy still. I wasn't letting that juice go to the garbage! I will, however, be finding grape seeds throughout my kitchen for the next five years.

So I started boiling. I didn't take off the skins like most recipes say. Too much work for me. I just started boiling them and used my immersion blender to whip up the skins in the juice. It made the resulting juice cloudy but I felt better thinking I may have added a bit more nutrition to my juice and jelly. (Hey, if you know otherwise, don't tell me. Ok?)

And straining with the dreaded cheesecloth. (This is actually my tomatoes draining--I forgot to photo the grape mush draining.) My setup was a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth over a clean 5 gallon bucket. Works great as long as you don't accidentally drop the colander into the bucket. Ask me how I know.

My reward. Several gallons of juice. This will be used for the jelly.

More in the freezer for drinking.

These are my bottles of grape cordial brewing away.

This cordial is from some red grapes that ripened about 6 weeks earlier. Can't wait for my cool winter evening when I pop open one of these!

I realized when getting this post ready that I never did take photos of my jelly. Oh well. I managed to get about 22 jelly jars full, plus 3 quarts of juice canned, plus what is in the freezer. It took two days (and I processed some tomatoes too). I'm a novice, what can I say? Would I do it again? In the phrase made famous this past year, "You betcha." As a matter of fact, my dinner tonight was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with MY jelly. Woo Hoo! LOL

The excitement never stops around here.


The Glasers said...

I love how you share the truth of this process. I'm a person who needs Canning for Clutzes . . .

Jackie said...

This is hilarious! I've not tried canning or preserves yet, but I just got a few books on it from the library!
I know that your story will race through my head when I take my turn at bat! :-)

sarah in the woods said...

The finished product sounds great! The process - not so fun. I probably would have stuck all the grapes into the freezer whole.

MasterpieceMom said...

Partway thru I did think I needed the book "Canning for Dummies" LOL