Friday night was Grape Night at the house. After a long week of work, we came home and cut grapes off the arbors in the backyard. Our intent is to eventually make grape jelly, and tonight was the first step.
Doing my best to dodge the floodwater mosquitoes, we picked around 10 pounds of grapes, leaving a few of the greener ones for the woodchuck. (We haven't been able to figure out if he is dexterous enough to eat grapes off the vine or not.)
After washing and stemming, it was time to mash. We transferred all 10 pounds to a giant plastic bucket and tried to take a potato masher to them.
Too slow. So Meg thought she'd stomp around in them instead.
I thought this was a great idea, so I gave it a try while Meg rested.
We then realized that we could alternate stomping and each fit a foot in the bucket.
They say the hands are one of the best tools in the kitchen. I have to say that the feet are a close second.
So all of this stomping around worked great, until Meg realized that the plastic bag around her foot broke. We weren't too worried, as we were just going to boil the mash when we were done. That and any foot dirt would get strained out. Then my bag broke as well.
After a thorough foot cleansing, we boiled the mash.
It looks incredibly vile, but I can tell you that it smelled delicious.
It was at this point that we rigged up our own version of a jelly bag by bungeeing muslin around the bucket and pouring the mixture through. I read about the muslin technique online, and Meg thought up the bungee idea. We make a good team.
On Sunday, we successfully preserved with no casualties1.
Yes, that's 24 jars of jelly. It's really good jelly, too. Not as sweet as Smuckers, yet grapier. I think it's lighter in color because either we picked the grapes a bit on the underripe side, or because we added the white concords.
We have mostly determined their recipients, but there are a couple to spare. If you think you need a jar of homemade grape jelly, leave us a convincing argument in the comments -- best one wins. Maybe we'll let Angus pick. Maybe we'll send Angus to the runner-up.
1The last time we tried this, I dropped and shattered an entire jar of would-be blueberry jam on the floor... and all over Meg's backpack.