Sunday, September 25, 2005

Grape Expectations

So what did I do with the quart of Concord grapes I found at the farmers' market yesterday?

The rich, full, sweet fragrance of these grapes took me back to my childhood and the one summer that my parents and I did a driving vacation through New York's Finger Lakes region and stopped at a couple of different wineries along the way. Though of course I was far too young even to be interested in the wines, I drank sample after sample of the dark purple juice with the deep pink froth (and probably had a juice mustache to show for it, too).

Because when you get right down to it, other grapes are wonderful for eating, but Concords just beg to be sniffed, squeezed, and quaffed from a crystal-clear glass.

And so, since I haven't the equipment, the patience, or the inclination to make jelly, I plopped those grapes in a glass saucepan, added a little water, and let them simmer away. When done, I strained them through several layers of thin muslin, letting the juice pour and drip into a quart jar. (I also got a lovely dyed purple stretch of fabric out of it!)

It'll have to sit another day or so before I strain the juice again, simmer it (with honey, if needed), and can it. But the sweet intensity of the grapes' perfume smelled like heaven to me as the juice finished cooking, and I know I'm going to enjoy reaching for a glass of it come winter time.

And who knows? If the folks with the grapes show up with more at the market this coming weekend, I might just have to buy more.

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