Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Grape Escape

With all the food I bought at the market yesterday and all the things I need to do to tuck plenty of it away for later, I'm determined to stick to my usual waking schedule this weekend. (Not an easy task when I'd really love to sleep in!)

I got going this morning with two loads of laundry and a delightful local breakfast of homemade pancake topped with raspberry jam, scrambled fresh eggs (that I gathered out of my friend's hen house yesterday) with shredded local organic Monterey Jack cheese, and a cup of chocolate mint "tea" (from leaves gathered at my old house).

Once I felt more awake, I went through the three quarts of red grapes from the market, pulled them from their stems, and rinsed them before adding them to my big pot to make juice. As always, I followed the very simple recipe in Stocking Up, my favorite book on preserving food (and likely my favorite book for the Eat Local Challenge month!).

I added water, not quite enough to cover, and set the pot on the stove over medium heat.

It took ten to fifteen minutes for the first faint bubbles to appear, but it was evident that the skins had already started to release some color and flavor.

Once the water reached a simmer, I turned down the heat and let it simmer for ten minutes before coming back to strain the juice.

I lined my cone-shaped colander (known as a chinois) with a jelly bag and slowly added grapes and liquid to it, allowing the juice to flow through. Once I'd gotten the contents of the pot into the bag, I pulled the drawstrings on the jelly bag and tied the bag to the rack overhanging my kitchen counter so that the remaining juice could drip down through the colander and into the pan.

That's it for today, aside from putting the pan in the refrigerator when the grapes have finished draining. Tomorrow I'll heat the juice again, see if I need to add a touch of honey (I doubt it!), strain it, and can it. (At least I think I'm going to can it this year so I can store the jars in the pantry. The freezer is awfully full right now!)

And now, I'm ready to escape for the day!



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