We have had this grape ‘plant’ for over a dozen years. It spent the first eight or so years in a large clay pot and would occasionally flower but never grew over three feet and never had fruit. At some point I wanted to use the planter for something else so took the grape plant out and popped it in the ground behind the cabana (on the north side of the yard). Each year since it has grown taller and the last four years we’ve had grapes. We always pick them way too early though they tasted like Warheads sour candy, yuck! Last year we read a bit more about when to harvest and the main advice was when the birds start eating them they are ripe. This year, like our apple, cherry and plum trees, the grape vine was prolific. We picked about five pounds two weeks ago and this past weekend we picked over 35 pounds!
I posted on our neighborhood blockwatch list asking if anyone wanted grape leaves for stuffing. One of the neighbors is making pickles and wanted some for the jars to help the pickles stay crunchy. I stuffed a few with goat cheese and they are soaking in olive oil in a dark cupboard for 4 weeks. Fingers are crossed they are edible at that time!
This week I made grape jam. I tried a recipe that didn’t need pectin, it didn’t gel right so we have a pint of ‘grape lemon syrup’ that should (?) be great over ice cream. I will try again and use pectin this weekend and I’m guessing it will turn out as nicely as the plum jam. We tossed a few bunches in olive oil and grilled over coals when we bbq-ed pork bellies for dinner. When the grapes cooled I mixed them into sour cream with lemon zest – ohhhh it was good!
Besides eating grapes by the handful, we found grape blackberry and grape blueberry crisps are delicious. And the Grape Galette (that I was not pronouncing correctly AT ALL) is heavenly. The homemade almond paste is a recipe I am saving. Almonds, lemon zest, egg yolk, a little granulated sugar and the last of my pure vanilla combined in the food processer is so good! I confess I don’t have the prettiest yard on the block but every tree produced food to feed family and neighbors this year and that makes me happy.
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