Thursday, 18 June 2009

Give it time...and a vine...

Now don't fall off your chair when you read this, but I actually did a bit of gardening today! Our rotten, falling down trellis has just been replaced by a beautiful hand made, wrought iron trellis which fences in the pond with elegance. So hubby and I spent quite some time re-attaching the grape vines to it. It was so tangled in a heap on the ground that we had to trim loads off which will mean a meagre harvest this year, but that won't be a problem as they are always tiny and full of seeds that we never feel like eating many - oh Tesco how you've spoilt us!

One year I decided it was such a waste not to eat these deliciously juicy (about two drops in each) fruit, so picked to make jam. I completely filled two carrier bags with bunches cut direct from the vine then sat for hours on end lovingly picking each grape from its stalk until they filled my large saucepan. After boiling down with just enough sugar I embarked on the sieving process. From saucepan through a colander into a second saucepan to remove the bulk of the seeds and skin without losing too much of the pulp. Next through the wire sieve pushing with the back of a spoon to extract as much as possible from the skins. Finally it needed to rolling boil until it reached setting point.

For those of you who have never made jam the test it to put a drizzle onto a cold plate, leave to cool for a few seconds them push with your finger to see if it wrinkles, however, if you lift the plate and it runs to the edge then no pushing is necessary and you continue to boil. I have to confess I tested until I lost the will to live and gave up. I removed my dozen jars which had been washed, sterilised in boiling water and dried in the oven and poured from pan to jars........just one and half jars in fact!!! Yes the two full carrier bags had reduced itself down to just one and half jars of jam that wouldn't even set!!!!

I tried making fruit leather one year too, but that story would read much like this one, so now we generously give bags of grapes to all our friends who smile politely and say how kind we are to share :o)

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