I discovered in the last few years that I can grow grapes in my garden, so I took a cutting from a relation’s successful grapevine, planted it on the sunniest side of my garden, and watched it develop.
It fruited in the second year but developed problems its third year. Because of the long cold spring, and a dull and very rainy harvesting season, the grapes were late to develop. The final blow came when Hurricane St. Jude blew down the fence I was using as a support trellis, leaving it hovering precariously over my neighbours’ pond, with the unripened grapes still attached. I was able to reach the grapes near the ground, but mostly they were dangling tantalizingly just out of reach. I most generously offered my neighbours some of my sour grapes, if they wanted to lean over and pick them from their side, but some days later when I went out there to inspect, I found that they had not taken up my offer – and who can blame them?
I left the grapes to the last possible moment, hoping they would gradually ripen on the vine, but realized that this was never going to happen, once the temperature went down to 7 degrees. I picked masses of them, ate a few of the best, fattest ones (they were all tiny), and, although they were tart, and only about the size of a large pea, they weren’t too bad.
But what to do about the rest of them? An Italian who knows all about grape-growing in Italy, told me that if I left them indoors, they would gradually ripen. My experience, sadly, was that they shrivelled up or went off long before they ripened, and even putting them in a bowl of bananas didn’t seem to hasten the ripening process.
Did you know that green tomatoes can be ripened by putting them in a bag with bananas? Someone told me that last year, so I thought I would expand my knowledge base by experimenting with green grapes. Useless.
Then there are a few recipes where you add the grapes as they are into a meat stew. Apparently they give it a refreshing tang.
Eventually, I froze all the grapes in plastic boxes and saved them for a time when I might find a use for them.Well, I recently tried a Persian dish Gormeh Sabzi, where you use whole limes in a lamb or beef stew, with lots of herbs, and it was fantastic. So I might give grape and meat stew a whirl, though I suspect it might not be so nice with lots of pips in it. I suppose I could skim off the grapes after cooking.
The final suggestions I found were of the jammy, add-lots-of-sugar variety, adding cream to a sugary sweet. I’m trying to reduce my sugar intake, so this is not advisable.
Do any of you know any other recipes using sour grapes no bigger than a currant?