Late summer on the homestead can mean an abundance of grapes! Discover 12 ways to preserve grapes for your next harvest.
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Here on our homestead, late summer, we are usually swimming in grapes! Our vineyard is still quite young, but we have random table grapes that are mature enough to provide pounds of grapes per vine every year. Of course, the kids enjoy snacking on them and I include them in as many recipes while they are fresh. We can never eat ALL of the grapes, and that is where my arsenal of grape preservation methods come in handy!
Once our grapes are preserved and put up on the shelves, we eat them all year long! I tend to gravitate towards the easier methods of preserving this time of year. Everything else in the garden is needing to be processed, and we are usually gearing up for Fall garden planting. I have to coax myself out into the garden to work during harvest time. Some of these methods are simple and some require more steps. I hope you can find some grape preservation method that will allow you to put up your abundant harvest and enjoy grapes all year long. Here are some of our favorite ways!
1. Freeze Dry Grapes
Since we bought our Harvest Right Freeze Dryer one year ago, we have enjoyed trying different fruits and veggies after they are freeze dried. Grapes are a DELICIOUS freeze-dried food! Because the moisture is pulled out you are left with this sugary airy fruit that is easy to pack and shelf stable. If we are going to eat freeze-dried grapes within the year, I simply put them in a jar with an oxygen absorber.
Sometimes when I want to set some aside for a longer period of time, I pack them in mylar. This gives them a 25 year shelf life! If you are interested in knowing more about long term food storage check out my post on how to have long term food storage. It is also helpful to know about the mylar bag sealing process and how to pack mylar. You can check out my post: how to seal Mylar Bags easily for long term food storage. If you want to know about what we honestly think about our freeze dryer check out our extremely honest Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Review.
Grapes are an excellent addition to a long term food storage pantry. My favorite thing about storing grapes my freeze drying them is how easy it is to get them preserved during the busy harvest season.
How to freeze dry grapes
- Start cooling down the chamber of your freeze dryer
- Slice the grapes so the moisture can properly escape
- Lay the grapes in an even layer on a freeze dryer tray
- When the freeze dryer is ready for the trays to be loaded, make sure the valve is in the shut portion and load your trays.
- Close the door, and press “start” the freeze dryer will do the rest.
- When the grapes are done freeze drying, check to make sure they are completely dry with no more moisture.
- Quickly pack grapes into an airtight space, so they do not absorb oxygen from the air.
Freeze drying grapes is really that easy! If course you an rehydrate them and make all kinds of things like jams and jellies, but if you want to make jam or jelly right from the start you can.
2. Make Grape Jam
Another great method for preserving grapes, is to make grape jam. Grape jam is different from grape jelly because it still contains the seeds and the skins of the grapes. It is a bit more rustic and goes well on biscuits, homemade bread, or scones. Concord grapes are best for this but other varieties can be used as well. Jams and jellies also make excellent gifts, so think about using your preserves to give away during the holiday season for a heart felt gift. If you are looking for a yummy grape jam recipe, our recipe for grape jam.
3. Freeze Grapes
Freezing grapes are the real nature’s candy! Kids love frozen grapes. They almost taste like a grape sorbet and make an excellent snack during the hot summer months. I can’t say that frozen grapes typically last in our house, because the kids want to eat them before the season is over. Grey and I both enjoy frozen grapes as well. I especially like them because they are easy to preserve. In fact, I think freezing them is the easiest preservation method on this list! In a previous post, I have talked about the importance of having a freezer on the homestead, and this is a perfect of example of why.
4. Dehydrate Grapes to Make Rasins
Our dehydrator does a lot of heavy lifting around our homestead because it produces completely different products than our freeze dryer. Raisins are something that need to be made either outside or in a dehydrator. These are a fun project to make with the kids. We love to add raisins to our morning bowl of oatmeal, oatmeal raisin cookies, homemade granola, and even just for snacks!
5. Make Grape Jelly
If you are still looking for ways to preserve grapes look no further than a classic grape jelly. It is similar to grape jam but all of the skins and fiber have been strained out before making into a preserve. It can be make from grape juice and is popular on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Like the kids Grey loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made on our homemade whole wheat sandwich bread.
6. Make Home Canned Grape Juice
Home canned grape juice is one of our favorite ways to preserve grapes because it can be used for drinking on ice (what is better?!) and turned into grape jelly in the future. Making home canned grape juice is a canning project I reserve for when I have plenty of time to work in the kitchen, since it does take longer than other preservation methods on this list. If you are curious to know our recipe for making it check out our post home canned grape juice, and snag the recipe for yourself!
7. Homemade wine
Like I’ve mentioned above, our home vineyard is still young. I cannot wait until we have enough wine grapes coming in that we can make and bottle up our own homemade wine for the year. When I was young, I remember my grandfather making wine on his farm, and he had quite the little operation! If you are a totally beginner, look into getting a wine making kit that will get you started with everything you need on a small scale. Wine making can become a serious hobby that can be enjoyed by your family, friends, and neighbors.
8. Make Healthy Grape Popsicles
If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I love our popsicle mold! It is one of my signature mom moves to make healthy homemade popsicles during the warm summer months for my kiddos. Making healthy grape popsicles from grapes grown on our garden is one of my favorite ways to preserve grapes! We use wooden sticks and popsicle wrappers to wrap up our popsicles once they are finished, so we can get a little stockpile going in the freezer. If you want to use our recipe check out our healthy grape popsicle recipe.
9. Pickled Grapes
Why let the veggies have all the fun?! Pickled grapes taste great on a salad. The sweetness mixed with the vinegars and spices, really make an interesting addition to a variety of recipes. Try pickled grapes on:
- Charcuterie Board
- In a green salad
- With roast chicken
- Chicken salad
- Use as a garnish
This is one of the less common ways to preserve grapes.
10. Grape Vinegar
Grape vinegar is made from the juice of fresh pressed grapes. To make your own grape vinegar, all you need is juice, a food grade container for fermenting and a breathable cloth. We really like these flour sack dish towels for this project. Fermenting fruit juice is quite simple and a great way to preserve the harvest. You can use grape vinegar just like you would apple cider vinegar. In fact, it has some of the same health benefits, when used regularly!
11. Grape Leather/Homemade Gummies
Making homemade fruit leathers is a special treat for our our children. They love the concentrated grape goodness of our homemade fruit leathers! This is a project to have the children help you make. I really like the raw grape fruit leather recipe from Becky over on the Seasonal Homestead.
12. Preserve Grapes in Alcohol
Lastly preserving grapes in alcohol is an excellent way to preserve grapes. Making a honey brandied preserved grapes is a treat that just doesn’t come in the store. Consider preserving your grapes in an alcohol to enjoy in a whole new way. There are also ways to make “boozy grapes” that are rolled in sugar to serve at a dinner party or girls night out. Alcohol can preserve grapes for quite a long time.