Grape Paradise

One week ago today, about 8:30pm, I heard a knock on the door. When I opened, this is what I had acquired:

Dimitri's friend had more grapes that were going unused, and he wondered if I would use them. Grapes? YES. It seemed like quite a few, but since I had nothing really planned for the week, I gratefully accepted them.

It turned out to be about 24 1/4 lbs of grapes after I cleaned them. That was quite a few. By my math (which I'm only really proficient at when it comes to kitchen related duties), I would have plenty for 24 quarts of juice and 2 batches of jelly.

I actually had to go and purchase jars, since I live so far from my Mom. She has a basement full of jars, so it seemed a pity, but no matter. I took the opportunity to get some jars that I know she doesn't have: 6 half gallons and some quilted 12 oz. jam jars. I had to break out my tamale steamer to actually accommodate the half gallon jars, and could only do 3 at a time, but it was nice to see such gigantic jars of finished juice as a result.

I opted for the method of juice making where you include the cleaned grapes. This is always how my Mom canned juice, and I do like the look of the fading grapes in the jars as their dark skins permeate their surrounding liquid. I used 8 oz. of grapes per quart (1 lb. per half gallon).

The resulting jars looked like a small city on the counter, The Citadel of Grape Paradise. I did the half gallons on Monday, and the quarts on Tuesday. Wednesday I cooked down the grape concentrate and then, Thursday, devoted time to grape jelly.

After talking with my Mom, who was actually sitting on the harbor in Maine watching sea traffic (on vacation), she told me the Amish in our area actually can the grape concentrate and just add water to reconstitute when serving. Then, R1 told me that her Mom recently gave her a glass of grape juice that was just the concentrate, water and a pinch of stevia powder. Is that good! I ended up making only one batch of jelly, to make room for grape concentrate drinks, and just yesterday decided to freeze the rest of the concentrate into ice cubes for drinking purposes later.

I plan to find out about canning unsweetened grape concentrate for next year, so I can sweeten as needed with stevia. After all, I do need to cut down on sugar where I can...

This, above, is the last of the concentrate from my refrigerator. Yesterday, I made

Rishi Tea's Cinnamon Plum, which I found in bulk at the co-op last time I went. I added about an ounce of the grape concentrate to it, and it was so tart and lovely... not to mention, packed with antioxidants.

It's exciting now, at the end of the canning season, so look back at my accomplishments this summer.I've never full out canned my way through the season before, but I'm so glad I did! I cracked open my spicy dilly beans and candied jalapenos, and was so excited that they were delicious. I pop in an alcohol soaked cherry here and there when I need something out of the icebox, and have several types of jam to carry my bread obsessions through the winter.

We've had a frost now, and Dewey said this morning that we are not going to see a temp over 49 degrees all week. Autumn is full blown here and there is, brace yourselves, a chance of SNOW tonight after 1am. I'd say winter is coming fast this year. Time to hunker down and knit, I'd say.