Monday, August 25, 2014

Premature Portion of the Grape Harvest

I have a crew coming tomorrow to repaint the white trim on my house and my shed, so tonight my son and I cut down the grape vines which were climbing through the railings of the shed.  The grapes probably need a few more weeks to be fully ripe, but I decided to harvest this section early, and at least I can make juice from them, it will just need a bit more sugar added.

We were out for dinner and visiting my parents briefly, so only had half an hour before it became dark, so we had to work quickly.  By the end, the mosquitoes were already biting.  But I was amazed at how many grapes we harvested.  The basket I usually pick into, was full and spilling over, and this is only about half of the grapes!  I look forward to harvesting the remainder when they are riper.
One of the varieties is softer and sweeter, and almost pleasant to eat.  The other one is only good for juice, in my opinion.  But I've been impressed by the vigour of the vines, and the good crops over the years.

Looking back in my blog, I've been too lazy to posting my grape harvest photos consistently (although I'm sure I take photos of them every year), but here is the grape harvest in 2009, and the grape harvest in 2011.  The grapes are definitely plumper in those photos, but there were MUCH more of them this year.  Yay!  I must be doing something right.

Oh, and the Fall Gold raspberries are bearing their second crop now.  This is the crop where they are super large and juicy.  Yummy.  I didn't have time to pick them tonight, it was too late when I was finished with the grapes.  I also needed to come inside to finish making the mint syrup I had started a couple of nights ago.  I finished three batches.  This is two of them :
The syrup "recipe" is extremely simple.  One part mint leaves and stems, cut into sections (with the flowers removed), to two parts water.  Bring to a boil, turn off, and let steep for about 10 minutes.  Mmmm, the house smells absolutely wonderful at this point.  Remove/strain out the mint, and you have a very strong mint infusion (tea).  Then mix one part infusion with one part sugar, and bring to a rolling boil.  At that point, the frothy water will become clear and dark, and the bubbles, if any, will disappear.  Add a few drops of green food coloring, to your preference.   Then I keep this syrup at or near boiling temperature while I boil jars and lids, and then scoop / pour the syrup into jars.  One day I should buy some nice jars, so I can be proud to give them away to friends.  I save so many, I haven't needed to buy any.

The mint syrup is wonderful on ice cream, in milk, in steamed milk, in hot chocolate...  Or this summer, I tried making mojitos with it.  Yumm.  One part lime (or lemon) juice (I use the "Realimon/Realemon" stuff, and it works fine), about 2 parts mint syrup (or to taste), and maybe 5 parts cold water.  Very refreshing for summer.  Rum optional.  I don't like rum.

Tomorrow night I will run the grapes through the juicer.  I love this time of year, even though it can be quite busy, making the best of the harvest.

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