Sunday, August 19, 2012
Grape harvest & juice making... mulling over mulled wine
My 3 sons & I harvested our grapes today (very early harvest this year! Last year's harvest was in September). Our grape yields were very low due to our extreme drought, but I was happy we had any grapes at all! The boys are now pulling the grapes off the clusters and into the big pot. I will add a bit of water, cook these down, then strain off the seed & pulp. A tiny bit of sugar if needed, then I will can the grape juice. We save this super-special grape juice concentrate for winter, for a special pick-me-up when sickness enters the house!
In past years, I've also made wine from the grape harvest. I have enough bottles of wine stashed away in the basement to last for a long time, though, and with 3 little boys it seems to make more sense to do the juice. I don't drink much of the wine, except last winter on a few weekends, when I just HAD to know what the "mulled wine" is that I read about in all the 1800s historical fiction novels set in England (secret admission: I'm so addicted to English historical fiction). Oh WOW, let me tell you, my husband and I discovered that the British knew what they were about! We drank mulled wine quite a few times last winter. A bottle of homemade grape or cranberry wine, put into a pot with mulling spices (cinnamon sticks, allspice, orange peel if you have it) and warmed up on top of the woodburning stove. Heavenly. But, that's winter, and really there are at least a dozen bottles of homemade wine in our basement.... so back to making the grape juice.
It's great that the boys are getting old enough now to help out a bit... at ages 9, 6, and 4... it helps my workload a little bit when they do help.
Mmm, smells like ripe grapes in here!