Fun with Canning

We found a wild grape vine on our property last year. A really big one that produces the most delicious concord grapes. Saturday, we picked about 25 pounds of wild grapes. Last year we put them in the freezer and used them for smoothies. This year, we wanted to try branching out some and make juice out of them.

Friends had given us a simple recipe: put 1-2 cups of grapes into a quart sized canning jar. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and then fill the rest of the jar with water. Can it (boiling for 10 minutes), and then wait 4-6 months. Take out the leftover grape bits, and voila! You’ve got grape juice.

I wanted to give it a shot, despite the fact that I have never canned anything in my life. But how hard could it be? You fill the jars, stick some lids on, put them in boiling water and wait for 10 minutes. I know how to boil water, and that sounded like the hardest part of the process.

Denisa assured me it was trickier than that. Jars could burst if you didn’t do it right. They could not seal. Anything might go wrong.

Undeterred, I pushed for us to start right away. DC and I cleaned the grapes while Denisa got the rest of the canning stuff ready. We were sailing along, despite Denisa taking all these silly precautions. Washing the jars multiple times. Trying to keep them warm before we put them in boiling water. This wasn’t rocket science!

In no time, we had six jars ready to go into the water. Just had to wait a little bit for the water to get to a full boil. A few minutes later, we stuck them in all at once. They made a popping noise as they went in.

“See?” I told Denisa. “They’re sealed already.”

“Not quite,” she said. “They’re not supposed to make that sound yet.”

I lifted a jar up to prove her wrong. Except when I raised it out of the water, it was strangely empty. A little farther up, and the cause was clear: the bottom had broken off the jar as cleanly as if it had been cut.

Three of the jars had that happen. The other three were good, but that was a lot of work that disappeared in a quick spray of glass shards. I felt pretty stupid.

Thankfully, it got better from there. We ended up with around 10 jars of juice. Four or six months from now, we’ll know how it tastes. In the meantime, I’ve definitely learned my lesson: listening to Denisa when I’m trying to do something she’s done before and I’ve never tried is . . . definitely a good idea.

Go figure.


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