Gathering Nature's Bounty is one of the more rewarding ways to spend your time and increase your preps. Before you start foraging make sure you learn and know about the fruits and plants available locally. Start small and learn about individual plants preferably one at a time until you can positively identify them. There are many lookalikes out there that are poisonous or will make you ill. In the past we have added fiddleheads, choke cherries, ramps or wild leeks and this year wild grapes to the larder.
Wild grapes grow on vines that attach to trees and fences and are easily identified by most as they are similar to the commercial variety. Wild grapes grow in the familiar bunches but are smaller and a little more tart.
Care should be used when harvesting as the Moonseed plant can often be found growing among the vines and closely resembles wild grapes. Canadian moonseed fruits are poisonous and can be fatal.
This year there was a bounty of grapes and we managed to harvest almost 10 gallons of grapes in a few hours. We made sure to leave plenty for the birds and wild critters.
Once we got home we washed the grapes and destemmed them discarding any damaged or under ripe fruit. Make no mistake that destemming is a tedious time consuming but necessary job. The end result was around ten quarts of clean grapes ready for further processing.
At this stage if necessary divide the grapes into manageable batches and add to a large stock pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil than reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. When the berries soft squash the berries being careful not to crack the seeds. At this point you can ladle the mixture into a jelly bag and allow to drip into a pan. Do not squeeze the jelly bag as it will make the juice cloudy.
Our harvest yielded 9 quarts or 32 cups of thick grape juice. A batch of jelly requires five cups of juice so we had enough for 7 batches. The juice was divided up and frozen in zip lock bags to be made into jelly later in the year. Too much stuff to do outside to prepare for winter.
For the first time we reprocessed the skins and seeds by covering with water and bringing to a boil. This mixture was placed back in the jelly bag and allowed to drip a second time. The yield was approx. 2 quarts of juice which was not as concentrated as the first batch. It will be combined with other fruit for jams and jellies. For example grape apple jelly, grape cranberry jam and anything else we can think of.
We use the standard Benardin recipe for Concord grape jelly which follows.
Benardin Concord Grape Jelly recipe
The best PB&J is made with nature's bountymysticraven
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