January 5, 2021 3:38pm CST
I meant to post about these before, but I forgot. We were given a grape vine by my partner’s parents as a housewarming gift when we moved just over 4 years ago. It’s a vine called ‘Lakemont’ that produces seedless green grapes. The first year it was just getting settled in. The second year it produced a few bunches. Last year (2019 I mean!) it produced quite a lot but many of the grapes were rather small. I know that to produce the best grapes we should restrict it to only two bunches per branch, and only two or three branches. And then thin out the grapes within the actual bunches. The catch is that we don’t only grow it for fruit, but also to cover a pergola and provide shade, so we can’t prune it in the traditional Guyot style. It covers supports about 10 by 12 feet, so of course it produces lots of bunches of grapes and I’m too soft-hearted to prune them off. This year I decided to try harder. I did trim away the more weedy-looking bunches, and those that were growing in too shady a corner. I thinned out parts that were looking a bit wizened (the chickens enjoyed those!). And I gave it more water. I didn’t want to use a lot of extra water so instead I just saved any water from rinsing vegetables or just running the tap to get the hot water and then tipped a bucket or three on it every day (luckily it’s not far from the door!) The results were pretty good. We got a LOT of bunches of decent-sized grapes, and they were very tasty. We picked a couple of bunches for us every day, gave bunches away to friends, and this went on for about three weeks. But then they couldn’t wait any longer, they were dropping off so I had to pick all the rest. And of course we wouldn’t be able to eat them all before they went bad. I thought about pressing them for juice, but we wouldn’t be able to store that for long either. I already have a cupboard full of preserves so no need for grape jelly, and my partner gave up drinking about three years ago so no point in making wine if I’d have to drink gallons of it all by myself! So I thought I would try making raisins. After all they were presumably invented by the ancients when faced with the same problem of how to store a glut of produce. I picked the grapes off their stalks and spread them out on a tray covered with grease-proof paper. Then I put them in a cool oven for several hours. The results were good! At first I just tried a few, but they were a success so I did all the rest in batches. The time required varied according to how many I did at once but if it wasn’t quite long enough I could just pop them back for another hour or two. We ended up with quite a big bag full, but by now they have just about all been eaten. I wouldn’t bother making these if I had to buy the fruit unless there was something really special about them, as they would be more expensive than just buying raisins, especially when you take into account fuel costs to dry them. But since we had masses of grapes and we also have a monster gas range which is on all the time anyway, it made sense, and the results were great. Will definitely do it again this year! All rights reserved. © Text and image copyright Fleur 2021.
20 people like this
• United Kingdom
Thanks! Yes I've been pretty pleased with the grapevine-pergola combination all round. Especially this summer of course, I could sit under there and imagine I really was on holiday in Greece or somewhere and not in lockdown UK. I may well be doing the same again this year : (
• United Kingdom
@much2say I would have thought they would do well there. Once they get settled in they just grow like crazy, even here, I have to prune it several times over the summer (and eat stuffed vine leaves lol). Maybe you could try again. Does anyone in your neighbourhood grow grapes?
• United Kingdom
I'd never even heard of anyone doing it before and yet, when you think about it, how hard can it be? Obviously would be even easier if you live in a part of the world where you can make the genuine sun-dried article (although I guess you may need to chase off birds).
• Legaspi, Philippines
First, I'm impressed with people who could grow grapes. I don't usually one around and having one in the garden would be such a great thing. I love eating raisins and it would be quite lovely to be able to do it on our own. Keep it up!