Our Kansas City rental house was probably the smallest house I've ever seen. It was surprising that the neighborhood, which was probably built during the suburban boom of the 1950s, was so well maintained and friendly for how small the houses were. I may have regretted choosing such a small house during the seemingly never ending winter of 2012-13, but I never regretted picking a place with such a large fenced backyard. The backyard was well loved by all, especially Ellie. Not only did she have lots of space to run around and explore, but we also had lots of fun wildlife. We had a resident wild bunny, who we named Winston, living under the deck. We also had a family of snakes that lived under there too. I was not so excited about those visitors. Especially when they had babies and there were snakes everywhere...shudder.
The landlord chose to plant a grapevine in the backyard. You wouldn't have guessed by looking at the tunnel of bare sticks that sat there from November to May that the vine would suddenly wake up and flourish during the summer, producing millions of Concord grapes. At first we were excited about the possibility of saving some cash on produce grocery costs, but then we tried one and became instantly less excited. The skins were very thick and bitter, the seeds made up half the grape, and the fruit wasn't tasted like dirt. It seemed like such a waste to just let them grow and rot on the vine so we looked up some recipes and decided to try our hand at canning some Concord grape jelly.
Looking back, we probably should have done some more research before we started the arduous project. I found someone who own a de-skinner, de-seeder, juicer and bartered some cookies, or free babysitting for letting us borrow it for a weekend. Then we went out to pick grapes in the sweltering September heat and humidity (note Ellie's extremely curly hair). It was probably Ellie's favorite part. She was so "helpful" by counting the grapes and transferring grapes from one bowl to another. When we felt like we had about a billion grapes (and poison ivy like itchy rashes from the vine), I started the de-skinning, de-seeding, juicing process, which was equal parts cool and disgusting. One billion grapes and several hours later, we had a whopping 6 tiny cups of juice. Kind of disappointing. We then added what seemed like a gallon of sugar and boiled and then followed the jam canning instructions.
We let it set while John eagerly made some of his famous waffles so that we could try a taste of our hard work. It looked like jelly, smelled like jelly, but when we went to spread some on our waffles, it didn't quite spread like jelly. More like a sticky purple goopy mess. No worries, we thought, we aren't too picky about looks as long as it tastes good. I opened my mouth for the first delicious bite and...mmm, liquid purple sugar goop without a hint of grape flavor. Not our best creation, and sort of disgusting. John, being the ultra practical and frugal person that he is, kept the jars and ate grape goopy waffles for a month straight. For me, that first bite was my last, and also my last time making Concord grape jelly.
Hi! I'm Rachel and welcome to Citrus and Mint! Here you will find unique hand drawn illustrations for yourself or someone you love.
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