Believe it or not, grapes grow in my backyard in Montana. In early spring the vines come back to life and slowly crawl over the pergola arbor my husband made, by the middle of August.
The grapes form into clusters of bunches and start as miniature versions of what they will become four to five months later to large fistful size by September. For most of their growing progression, the grapes are green and sour to taste, but by harvest time they rapidly turn color to navy blue and are sweet as only grape juice can be.
As we watch the bunches grow larger and bluer at the end of the warm season in this northern and high altitude climate, we await the picking...and hope and pray that the foxy scent of ripening fruit isn't wafted too far to be smelled by the dreaded raccoon raiders.
A counter full of blue grapes makes the heart skip a beat.
Since these grapes have big pits, sometimes two or three per small berry, they are meant really for juicing and not munching. My first attempt a few years ago to release the dark elixer was almost amusing. Surely my fine juicer machine would work. Not! Can you imagine how often it was needed to clean the filter?
Little did I know that my neighbor's parents had a wonderful old-fashioned low-tech machine called a juicer steamer. Pure magic!
Fill the interior basket full, stems and all, with fruit of any kind, steam like a percolator, empty juice through spigot into glass groliers (beer jugs, pronounced growlers) and use however you see fit.
Often I've made jelly from the juice and passed jars out for gifts. This year it's all for the drinking. Next year I may try wine. Either way the antioxidants are abundant and the local nature of a backyard vineyard is priceless.
Who knew that two vines in chilly Montana could produce 70-100 pounds of fruit? Now you do.