Seed Swaps

Concord grapes - harvested

10 Sep 2011
Storms 24°C / 76°F

The greater majority of the grapes are ripe so I was out under the arbor most of the day getting them.

I use paper grocery bags (one of the main reasons I double-bag at the grocery store) to collect them in. I now have 6 and about a half bags full of grapes waiting to be de-stemmed sitting on my front porch. Not the best year (volume) I’ve had but they sure are pretty grapes.

If I’m recalling correctly, a grocery bag of grapes weighs in at about 30 pounds, so that’s about 200 pounds of grapes. 8-) I’m going to weigh a bag tomorrow to make sure I’m remembering that correctly. Next door neighbor Jamie is totally hooked on winemaking (my bad) – I’ll be sending some across the driveway to him.

No jelly this year. There is a respectable store if it in the cellar already and it’s a bit more labor-intensive than I want to do by myself. :::sigh:::

DW would dearly love to help but… to see her walk across the kitchen would be a wish filled. Damn. Anyhow.

The person who taught me how to make jelly – my Mom – is a couple of hours away and none of us are as young as we would like to be.

So… it’s all me. Maybe next year. This year it will be what concord grapes do best. Two five gallon buckets of wine and mead. :D

I’m planning sweet wine – dry wine has just an alcohol taste and no body, IMO. I like the sweet grape taste. I might even rack it more than once this year to get that “professional” appearance. :::snicker::: Wine snobs… er… aficionados don’t know what they’re missing. The settlement at the bottom is what we in the hills call “hard bite” – for good reason. It has the same taste (more or less) as “pure” wine but it really packs a punch. o.O

Most people don’t understand the reason and expect wine to be… well, clear liquid with no sediment. I think I’ll make a batch of that this year – and put up some hard bite in a separate bottle or two.

The mead I make is more correctly named pyment. Mead is honey wine, pyment is honey and grapes. I like it and it’s easy to make. Homemade mead (or pyment) doesn’t taste like the commercial stuff they call mead. (there’s a surprise. Store bought tomatoes can’t hold a candle to garden fresh ;-) They ferment the mead and then add honey after the batch stops cooking. :::blech::: If you can’t do it right the first time, take your football and go home. Heat the water so you can super-saturate the honey. It’s that easy.

I need to check my kitchen for sugar and I know I’ll need honey. It takes a LOT of honey to make mead. And yeast, of course. Wine snobs will sneer at the stuff I make but I really don’t care. I’ve already had a snob or two try it and fall over themselves that it was fantastic wine. I know. It’s essentially how my Pap used to make it. His parents came from County Cork so there’s a tradition and a heritage there I’m keeping. ;-)

You see, I don’t use any of the yeasts specifically bred for wine. They get to about 13% abv (alcohol by volume) and give out. Maximum possible for any yeast is about 21% at which point the environment is too toxic for the yeasties to live in. Bring in the bread yeast! It was good enough for my Pap, it’s certainly good enough for me. Wine snobs claim bread yeast gives the wine an “off” taste. Ok. Sure. Whatever gets you to sleep at night. I’m guessing it’s that “off” taste that the wine aficionados neighbor Jamie gave some to found so tasty. ROTFL Oh, and they were trying to guess the alcohol content… they were sure it was 30% or more (not possible short of a port) (which isn’t technically wine – it’s wine and brandy blended.) Back then I didn’t use a hydrometer so I really have no idea what the alcohol content was. Now I do and I know 13% is weak compared to mine. 0-:-) Keep it clean and watch for bad yeasts, make sure it’s airtight while the wine is cooking (fermenting) and let it settle for a year. The real secret in a sentence.

I’ll be posting the recipes with all the sidenotes I can think of in the Grape group as I get into the process.



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