Wednesday, October 03, 2012

I now see why wine is so expensive.

So it was Sunday - the 49ers had just stomped the ever-loving crap out of the Jets, I had studied my eyeballs to the bone in between hangover naps and pointing the contractor at different things that needed doing/fixing/explaining and it was hot.


Because we are having ourselves a full-on Indian Summer around NorCal and it's a bit hard to handle when you live in a tiny old house like ours without A/C or, you know, insulation.

Hooray for charming Craftsman homes built 100 years ago before they learned that plaster and lath is no way to construct interior walls and that P-traps are a must on toilet waste stacks.

But don't let me go down the road of Horrors of Bathroom Remodeling because I daresay we will not return intact.


That's all I'm going to say. 

Instead, let's talk about something else I'm never doing again. Namely, making my own grape juice.

See, when it was all hot and I was all exhausted and my brains were leaking out my ears due to the hangover, my neighbor began pounding on the back gate with an announcement that got my ass peeled up off the me-shaped dent in the couch and onto Tulip even though the mere thought of riding a bicycle at that moment made me nauseous.

She said that one of our other neighbors had a table full of Concord grapes in her front yard and she was giving away grocery sacks full FOR FREE. Also, HURRY.

And for those of you who are all, "Um...who gives a straight rat fuck?" I will first ask you whether you kiss your mother with that mouth and then also - DON'T YOU KNOW ME?

Meaning, of course that I gave a straight rat fuck about the table full of free bags of Concord grapes and, even though my head was throbbing with the intensity of a thousand herpes-riddled whores' crotches, I forced myself through tunnel vision toward the garage so that I could hop on Tulip and toodle over to the neighbors' to gather my just reward.

Reward for what, you ask? Um...for not bludgeoning the contractor to death when I saw overcuts in every corner cut tile, that's what.

Right? You see.

Also, let's not talk about the bathroom remodel because OHMYGODI'MSOREADYFORITTOBEOVER.

The toodling on Tulip went well though - meaning that I didn't barf into anyone's yard, there were still lots of grapes left AND I got to carry them home safely in Tulip's front basket like I was Dutch or some shit - and I returned home with about 10 pounds of Concord grapes.

I felt like the conquering hero, I'm not ashamed to say.

"Look at all my grapes!" I shrieked freakishly as Bubba attempted napping on our molten lava couch.

"Mmmrrfff." Bubba replied enthusiastically while trying to pull the rug up off the floor and over his ears so that his wife would quit bugging him about abandoned fruit while he tried to sleep off his own hangover.

I wasn't deterred though. I was drunk with the joy that is free delicious fruit that I actually want.

I mean, I can get sacks of apricots and plums GALORE at other times of the year, but that's like, pfffffffft. I'm not shaking off a pukey hangover and riding my bike through the heat to get a sack of apricots. 

But Concord grapes (or figs, pineapple guavas, cherries, blackberries) - these things are totally pukey hot hangover bike ride worthy.

Unless what you decide to do with them, instead of just give them a quick rinse and then sit down in the middle of the strainer and eat yourself free, is make juice.

I am here to tell you, people, that making grape juice - at least from Concord grapes - is a thankless, messy, not-worth-it endeavor.

Firstly, there's the stripping of grapes from stems. This isn't too bad and it gives you a chance to eat a bunch of them like a wild animal while some husband naps unknowingly in the other room, his store of grapes diminishing by the second.

Secondly, there's the rinsing of said stripped grapes. This isn't too bad either, except that since these are slip skin grapes, their friggen skins slip right off, so you're always wondering whether that's a bad mushy grape you're touching or just a slimy slipped skin. Thankfully, this was mostly just slipped skins and random debris. Though I think there was a spider web in there and that freaked me out.

Thirdly, (and what should probably be fourthly and fifthly for the amount of mess it made) there's the juicing. See, I thought I was taking the easy road, which, incidentally, is my oft-taken route, by hauling the juicer out from the garage to lay waste to the 10 pounds of rinsed grapes in my strainer.

This will be CAKE, I believe I said aloud just like a douchebag might.

And then it was most certainly not CAKE.

What I'm saying is that I do believe that I will be cleaning grape juice off of the white cabinets in my kitchen for many years to come. Also, what idiot chose white cabinets for our ultra busy kitchen?

Anyway, once I got done shoving handfuls of slippery grapes into the juicer while attempting futilely to cover the fill hole, I had about 6 cups of something grape like in my big Pyrex pitcher and about a half gallon sprayed all crime scene-like across my kitchen.

Fourthly, there was the straining. OH MY GOD THE STRAINING. See, friends, grapes have that lovely gelatinous texture to them that lends so well to making jam and jelly and to slipping of skins and general grape enjoyment and that gelatin has to go somewhere during the juicing process and that somewhere is into the strainer to block all the juice from going through. 

The straining process was, well, straining. It took for-fucking-ever. I strained and strained until I could strain no more (dodging all kinds of cliche bullets right there, I just want you to know. I do this for you. Enjoy.) and then I put what was left into the big glass Pyrex to "settle" in the fridge overnight.

For the record, I should have just done this first and not strained a god damned thing because what emerged from the fridge after 24 hours was nothing short of a miracle.

Also, I'm pissed I didn't photograph it because it was truly remarkable and also I'm never going through this process again, so you're just going to have to try the miracle for yourself. Be sure to have a cocktail nearby though, because you'll need it.

See, when this juiced grape business sits overnight in the fridge, the solids float to the top and form a solid gelatinous layer that can be easily removed with a spoon. Seriously, the shit's like Jell-o.

Fifthly, there's the decanting of your freshly squeezed 10 pounds of grapes' juice into 1/3 of a 1 liter bottle.


Yeah, after all that tunnel-visioned, hangover-tainted, gonna-puke-in-the-neighbors'-roses, been-straining-myself-purple-and-coloring-my-kitchen-like-a-crime-scene juicing, I got a measly 11 ounces of juice.

But it was damn good.

I just finished the last glass.

I didn't add any sugar, water, other weird flavorings or anything. Just drank it super cold over a few ice cubes and WOW. So good.

Not tunnel-visioned, hangover-tainted, gonna-puke-in-the-neighbors'-roses, been-straining-myself-purple-and-coloring-my-kitchen-like-a-crime-scene juicing good, but not bad in any way.

Just a LOT of work for not a lot of juice.

So, yeah, not doing that again. I'll just eat my grapes, thankyouverymuch. Or make jam or jelly. That I can do. I think.


  1. See?!! I told'ja to make jelly!

    BTW - Does this mean I can't pawn grapes off on you whenever (IF-ever) my grape decides to start producing anything noteworthy???

    Thx for sharing (and sparing me the agony!)


    -QT (The Bacon Queen!)

  2. I would ride a LONG WAY for apricots. Because we don't grow them. Concord grapes, however, we do grow. And I make juice thusly: Rinse--don't worry too much about picking over. Put in a pot, bring to a boil and smash 'wm with a potato masher. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. That's it. Easy. Still kinda messy, but not as messy as an actual juicer, I bet. But mulberry juice is a thousand times worse.

  3. Bleah, I hate it when I discover halfway through a new project that it's well-nigh impossible. I think we actually have a grape juicer; it looks like a mini-cider press. We've never used it (no grapes), so it's mostly a dust collector.

  4. Noted. Yet another reason I love reading the blog. You remind me of what not to bother with!


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