When we first visited the home we live in now, it was a foreclosure house with an overgrown yard. (Now it’s a paid-off house with an overgrown yard.)
As I wandered through the yard, I wasn’t all that impressed by the variety of plants. There was some liriope grass, a few sad crepe myrtles, oaks, a magnolia, a sweet gum and a variety of weeds like begger tick and dog fennel. Not really inspiring… except for along one fence, where there were clusters of tart black grapes. Wild muscadines!
The kids and I ate a few during that visit, then basically forgot about the plants.
Now, however, we’ve really started looking forward to the harvests we get. Every year, a few giant wild grape vines along the fence produce a few gallons of grapes within reach… plus a few more gallons we can’t reach. (My oldest son jokes that the high-up ones are sour anyways so we shouldn’t worry about trying to get them.)
Last week, we spent a couple of hours on a lovely afternoon picking grapes. I’d been sitting at my computer for way too long, trying to get some work done… and then the thought came into my head “Hey, how about picking grapes.”
So the screen went off, I gathered up Rachel and the children, the baskets came out… and we picked. It was wonderful.
Some people make wild muscadines into wine. I haven’t done that for two reasons:
1. I consistently fail at winemaking
2. I’m too lazy to try again
Instead, we render our wild grapes into wild grape jam.
In French, the finished jars are called “Cadeaux de Noël, à partir de rachitique homesteaders.” Or something like that.
This is the time of year to seek out wild grapes in North Florida. Keep your eyes open – some are still ripening – but they won’t be here for long.
As a final note, Rachel is going to post her jam-making process tomorrow.