The Grapes of Wrath Part II: How to make Homemade Raisins in the Oven

“and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

In my backyard, there is no hunger growing for lack of grapes. I am riddled with them beyond all reckoning. Now I’m nowhere near ready to hire out migrant workers and there are no worker camps set up in the vacant lot next to mine, so perhaps things are not as dire here as they were in Steinbeck’s classic work. But I can’t steal his title without a shout out. Wouldn’t be polite.

In the eyes of this urban farmer, there is no room for hunger or wrath. There is a growing sense of panic, however, as my bazillion bunches of grapes begin to ripen all at the same time. Check here for more grape emergency details. Myself, my friends and my chickens have eaten their fill already and we can’t even put a dent in the vast amounts of grapes that are ready to go. TODAY!

One friend suggested I make raisins out of them, so on Sunday I gave it a go. Now typical raisins are made from Thompson seedless grapes, but I don’t have those in my yard. I have Niagara grapes, which are also seedless but a little bit smaller. Any seedless variety will do, but even grapes with seeds can be made into raisins. Albeit crunchy raisins, but the seeds are loaded with heart-healthy nutrition.

The Niagara grapes produce a tart raisin that reminds me of a tastier and more wholesome Fruit Roll-up. Or Fruit Leather, if you’ve ever had that. They’re actually quite yummy and better yet, will last for years as long as they’re kept in a dark dry place. I’m storing mine in some mason jars, but I doubt they’ll last more than a few days on account of how fast they are going now.

Regardless of what grape you decide to use, the steps are the same. I don’t own a dehydrator, so this will be the oven method. You can even let the sun dry them out, but it takes a lot longer (several weeks) and you run the risk of insects, mold or something that resembles a raisin but is not. If you follow. Poop for those not paying attention. The controlled environment of your kitchen seems to me to be the smarter and faster route.

Another thing that helps when preserving fruits or berries that have a waxy skin is to blanch them. That means soaking them in hot water for about 30 seconds and then placing them into ice water right after that. This causes splits and cracks in the skin and allows for a more even dehydration. Here’s how I did mine, step by step with fancy schmancy photographs of each step.

Step 1: Get yourself some grapes. Duh.

How to Make Organic Raisins 01b_Niagara Grapes
1/500th of my total harvest of Niagara grapes.

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