There is a grape vine here that is about 25 years old. It came with the house. We have never grown grapes before and don't know much about them besides what we have read. This is the first year it has produced any measurable harvest since we got it up on a trellis.
I picked them all a few days ago. I had been watching to see when most of them were ripe.
I thought it would be good to try my hand at raisins. So I got out my book on drying foods. I knew the grapes had seeds, but I thought I could cut them in half (so I wouldn't have to blanch them) and take the seed out, put them on the dehydrator trays and be ready to make raisins. Wrong! It is basically impossible to get the seeds out of the meat of the grape without taking all of the meat with it. This turned out to be the wrong choice for these grapes. This would work great with seedless grapes, just not with these.
I took all of the grapes off of the vines, picked out the bad ones and put the good ones in a pot on the stove to cook down so I could run them through the strainer (like I did the tomatoes for tomato sauce). I mashed the grapes with the potato masher and was pleased with this small amount of grape mush. Since we had finished canning tomato sauce and completed the regular chores, this was all we did yesterday. Today when I got home from work, I got the grape mush out and heated it up a little so it would be easier to scoop into the strainer. This is only the second time we have used this strainer attachment. We got everything set up, and put a small crock under the mixing bowl so the juice wouldn't splash like the tomato sauce did.
Everything was set and we started pouring the grape mush into the strainer. Before we had poured in all of the second cup, the strainer started kind of wiggling and making a grinding kind of noise. We thought it wasn't put together tight
enough. Well, we don't really know what happened, but the seeds had jammed up into the screw and mesh strainer mechanism so tightly that it shot off of the machine when Frank finally got the ring loosened up enough.
Then it took him another 15-20 minutes with an ice pick just to get all of the impacted seeds out of the two pieces. After he thought he might have it all, he realized the screw piece still had a bunch of stuff stuck in it. What a chore!
In the meantime, I had gone on to Plan C, which didn't work either. I thought maybe I could just squeeze it through a cheese cloth and call it good. But I realized I would be throwing away a lot of the pulp that I wanted to keep.
Now, onto Plan D. Hrumph! I got out a fine mesh strainer and started mashing the mush through with a large metal spoon. Now I know some of you are starting to chuckle. We felt like a quick little batch of our first grape butter from our first
Well, it did get finished. After I had pressed it through the strainer, I heated it up again, tasted it, and added a little sugar to cut the tart whang.
Here is our grape harvest for the year. I don't know what I will do with next year's crop. Really, I hope the seedless grapes I planted last year are ready to start producing, because I would rather have raisins. The really funny thing about this whole project is that neither one of us like grape juice or jelly. All that work for one pint of stuff we don't really like. But then again, it is growing here, it is something to eat, it has good nutritional value and it may end up being very important that we eat whatever grows here. There may come a day that we would be happy to eat things we never thought we would. As I was finishing up this grape butter thinking 'all of that work for one jar of stuff we don't really like', I realized how grateful I should be for the chance to learn, make mistakes, make mistakes, make mistakes, make mistakes and learn some more. It is not always the end product that is most important. It is not always the process of doing something that is important. How you choose to deal with situations and learning opportunities are often more important than the outcome. Take time to enjoy your fiasco's. Sometimes they even taste good!
Until next time - Fern