Sunday, September 9, 2007

Canning Season

This fall, like the past previous autumns, I've been kept quite busy canning and taking care of garden produce. I've canned salsa, tomato soup, relish, and LOTS of grape juice.

Our grapes are producing like mad, and we've also been given a lot of grapes from friends and neighbors. I suppose we don't really need the extra grapes, but the kids drink so much grape juice, I figured I couldn't really have too much canned.

Andy picks and plucks the grapes (usually while watching football - an arrangement suitable to us both, lol) and I take care of the canning part. I'm especially glad that he takes care of the picking part, because usually there are about 50 earwigs at the bottom of the buckets. Earwigs seem to love grapes as much as my kids, and I have to say that they (the earwigs, not the kids) are the most disgusting bugs God ever created. I know God is all-wise, but I have to wonder what He had in mind when he designed these awful things! (Lynn, I told you they're worse than cockroaches any day!)

After a good washing, I put the grapes in a large pot of water and boil them for about 30 minutes. Then I strain the pulp and seeds out, and put the juice back in the big pot and add a little bit of sugar. (Our grapes are usually quite sweet, but sometimes the sugar takes some of the tartness away).

Once the sugar has fully dissolved, the juice goes into quart jars, and then I can them in a water bath and add labels. Then they're done! I make the juice concentrated, so a quart of juice will actually make a half-gallon of drinkable juice.

Sometimes I make wine with the grapes. Since this is a bumper crop year, I'm planning to make four batches of wine, which should yield quite a few bottles! I believe each batch makes about 25 bottles of wine, so that makes close to 100 liters of wine! (No, we're not "winos", but I end up giving a lot away and using quite a bit in cooking.)

I just finished making a batch of Lilac Wine. This is my first time making this, and it came out fairly well, although it didn't clarify as well as I'd like. It's really the oddest wine - it's a dessert wine, so it's white, but the aftertaste of lilacs is quite strong! Rather interesting, to say the least.

I'm rather pleased with the labels, too. Designing the labels for the bottles every year is one of the fun parts, I think (well, that, and drinking the wine, lol!).

Viva la Vino!