The weather here in Minnesota has been really nice the past few days. It’s been in the 80’s, and feels much more like summer than fall! I have so much yard work to get finished before we leave for India and this weather has been perfect for it, but I haven’t done any! Nope. I haven’t picked up a rake or touched my shears. I haven’t pulled out the tomato plants from the garden nor have I mulched anything. Instead, I decided I wanted to buy some grapes and make jelly. I never actually got around to making the jelly yet (are you surprised?!), but I did make nearly 30 cups of concord grape juice!
After searching online for concord grapes, I was surprised that I could find them right here in Rochester! I ran a few errands and then plugged the address into my phone. It was a little outside of town, but very easy to find. The farm is called Firefly Berries (you can check out there website HERE). I’ve never picked grapes before and didn’t have any idea what to do, how to tell if they were ripe, or how many I would need to make some jelly and juice. The lady that helped me was very nice and answered all my questions. Picking the grapes was kind of fun and it went really quickly. I picked 17lbs of grapes, and at $1.00/lb, I thought it was a good deal!
I also bought a container of the juice they make there. I thought Piyush would really like it. I wasn’t sure exactly how much juice I would get from the grapes I had bought and wanted to make sure we could enjoy some fresh concord grape juice when I was done making the jelly. I’m not a juice drinker really (probably why that juice diet never really stuck all that well), but concord grape juice is probably the only one I crave once in awhile. I usually just want a taste. Man! The juice they made was awesome! I can’t wait until next year when I have some time to put up a bunch of grape juice myself.
Once I got the grapes home I became a little terrified of all the bugs hanging out in that box with them. I didn’t want any bugs or spiders (eeeekkk!) coming inside my house so I got a few bowls and set everything up on the trunk of the car. I started pulling the grapes off and sorting through them. This is when I started wishing Piyush was home because I desperately needed someone to take care of all those bugs! There were a lot more than I had expected, but I realize that I intruded on their habitat and they weren’t there just to annoy me, so I probably shouldn’t complain too much. I don’t like to kill them and I don’t like to touch them, so I’m sure my neighbors were laughing at me dancing around in the garage with a stick in my hand trying to coax them away.
I survived, thankfully, and then left my bowls of beautiful grapes in the garage while I filled the sink up with water.
I figured that soaking them this way would clean them real good and also allow for any stems (and bugs!!!) to float to the top, where I could skim them off. It worked well.
I tried using my juicer, but realized it would take forever. Seeds kept shooting back out of the top at me whenever I took the plunger out to put more grapes in. It just wasn’t going to work. So I pulled a big pan out of the cupboard and filled it with about 3lbs of grapes and 1 1/2 cups of water. I smashed the grapes and cooked everything until it boiled. Once it boiled, I reduced the heat and cooked it for roughly 10 more minutes. I then dumped everything into a sieve to separate out the juice from the skin, pulp and seeds. Once the juice was separated I poured it into large jars that went into the fridge. Making juice this way also took quite awhile, but I enjoyed it. We ended up with approximately 30 cups of juice! That’s enough to make about 48 cups of jelly!!! I don’t think we need that much. I put some in a pitcher to drink (strained it through a cheesecloth and added some water until I was satisfied with the taste).
I also made a grape cake this morning when I got home from the gym (it’s cooling now, so hopefully I’ll have a post up about it soon!) For the rest of the juice, I’m going to give some to a couple friends and then freeze the rest for when the “jelly makin’ bug” bites me in the middle of winter…and I know it will!
Oh! One other thing I learned today about concord grape juice: Do not give it to a 1 1/2 year old—no matter how much you dilute it (and I diluted it a LOT!)—when you are babysitting. They will get a major sugar high and act like a crazy animal! And definitely do not give it to them in a sippy cup, even if the sippy cup says “leak proof”. It will most definitely leak, and grape juice is really hard to clean up (especially on white cupboards!!!)!
Piyush and I were watching my niece, Madelyn, while my sister and brother in law went out for dinner and to a movie. She’s so cute and I love spending the day with her, but Piyush was definitely not ready to keep up with all her energy.
By the time my sister and Brian got back from their movie (at around 10pm), Madelyn was still going strong…and Piyush was ready to pass out! It was kind of funny. But lesson learned. No more grape juice for Madelyn!