Grapes are one of the most fantastic fruits we can grow on our homestead. Not only do they taste amazing right off the vine, you can learn how to preserve grapes by dehydrating, freezing, or making wines and vinegars.
While growing grapes might seem like a tricky endeavor, once you have them going, they will produce for you year after year. Your grapevines will provide you tons of fruit to enjoy during the summer. If you learn to preserve them, you can enjoy them throughout the year, too.
However, the height of summer isn’t always the best time to do our preserving here on Stone Family Farmstead. Where we live in Southern California, the summers are often hot and humid. This makes it not conducive at all to working long in the kitchen. As I do with other harvests, like tomatoes, I like to use my freezer to put my harvests “on hold” until I’m ready to spend the time I need in the kitchen.
How to Preserve Grapes
This is a pretty easy task, but make sure to keep an eye out for spiders, which can hide inside of your full grape vines. You can try to pull each cluster from the vine in a pinch, but you may find it much easier to use a pair of small garden scissors to clip them off the branches. This will go a long way in saving more grapes for your basket, rather than accidentally losing them off the cluster because of pulling.
Remember how I mentioned spiders? Ants can also be an issue, not to mention any dust on your fruit. Take a minute to rinse your grapes thoroughly right on the vine to get any extra “stuff” out of the way for the next step.
Remove your grapes from each cluster, and put them in a bowl (or another colander). Throw away or compost all of the stems. (This is a tedious step, so I suggest enjoying a couple of episodes of your favorite tv show or podcast to break up the tedium.)
Rinse your grapes. This is an optional step if you feel your grapes need one more rinse. If you need to rinse out the colander your previously used, do that first, then use water to remove any extra stem waste off your harvest.
Spread on a cookie sheet, in a single layer. The purpose of the single layer is so that the grapes freeze evenly, and are not clumped together.
Flash freeze your grapes. Put your cookie sheet in the freezer for two hours. After two hours, check to see if they are frozen through. If not, leave them for an extra hour, or until they are completely frozen.
Package them up in ziploc baggies. Once your grapes are frozen, place them in ziploc baggies. The increments you freeze them in will depend on what you plan to use them for. However, because they are individually frozen (not in clumps), you should be able to store them in large baggies together. Scooping them with a measuring cup should work well with this method.
I like to put all of my gallon bags of produce in our deep freezer in the garage. Because we don’t open it much, we are sure to have our summer harvests still fresh and ready to deal with in a few months.
My plans for our grapes are as follows:
Fruit wine (Chardonnay grapes) – Try subbing 4lbs grapes in place of berries in this recipe!
Raisins (Manukka and Red Flame table grapes) – Just add your frozen grapes to your dehydrator tray and dehydrate on the fruit setting! No need to pierce the skins!
Fruit vinegar (any grapes)
Do you eat your grape leaves? Try this recipe for wraps!
Want to multiply your grape plants? Try this article to learn to propagate them!
Here’s a thoughtful grape-centered article to read while you are curled up with a cup of tea, “More than Surviving, Thriving”.