Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

Grape harvest

We harvested our grapes yesterday.

We weren’t expecting a great amount of fruit this year with the severe pruning the vines had in winter, but even so there wasn’t an awful lot there. We were a bit late in getting the vines thinned out so a good airflow and the sun could get to the ripening fruit, so we lost some to mildew as well. Then with the very dry summer, about half of them had already ripened and dried out before we got to the harvesting. A legacy of too many other things to do at the same time, but lots of good lessons for next year.

As it happened, because of said too-many-other-things-to-do-at-the-same-time, it’s probably just as well we had so little, since processing a large harvest would have taken several days. The tiny kitchen area we have in the yurt is not the easiest space for dealing with big harvests either.

We made grape juice. Having harvested the grapes, we stripped them from their stalks and discarded any that weren’t plump and ripe. Then we trod them to break up the fruit.

Emma treading grapes for grape juice

Emma takes first shot at the treading. Cold grapes from sitting out all night in cold water …

Trod grapes

Trod grapes

Robynne treading grapes

Robynne has a go …

Emma treading grapes

… then Oonagh who’s an old hand at this

Grape juice preparation

First batch of juice heating up while bottles and corks are sterilised

Grape juice preparation

Second batch on the way while the strained first batch plus sugar are coming back to the boil

Bottled grape juice

10 litres of grape juice bottled and corked. (Thanks to Andy & Sophie for the loan of their brillant corking machine)

Grape juice

The end result

This is the recipe we used. For every 3 litres of squished fruit, add about 500ml water. Bring to the boil and boil a couple of minutes. Squish some more then strain through muslin bag. For every litre of strained juice, add about 100-125g sugar, bring back to the boil, boil 5 minutes or so, then bottle and cork.

The juice is so intense it needs to be diluted about 50/50 with water, so our 10 litres will make 20 litres to drink. It’s delicious!

Update

We no longer use this method. We use a steam juicer. This does the extraction, sterilisation and straining all in one go and there’s no need for added sugar (a bonus). The end result is even better – if that’s even possible – and still every bit as intense.

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