This year we have been blessed with a bumper harvest of grapes from our vines, and as our house operates as close to zero food waste as possible, it has meant a lot and I mean LOT of preserving.
My husband has started a huge batch of wine, I had already made grape jelly for the winter and we were still being inundated with grapes and the prospect of more ripening by the day. So we opted to make some grape cordial for the children to enjoy in the autumn sunshine and any extra could be frozen for over winter treats.
First we washed our grapes and put them into a large pan, now I didn't use a recipe or weigh my grapes as I had so many but as a general rule with cordials if you use 2 kilograms of grapes add 1 litre of water, approximately half fill the pan in proportion to the grapes. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 10 minutes using a masher to release all the juice from the grapes.
Leave this to infuse in the juices and cool for a little while then strain the mixture through a jelly bag, cheesecloth or muslin to ensure all pips and grape skins are removed. This will leave you with a dark purple liquid.
At this point it is best for you to taste your mixture to see how much sugar you will need to add. Our grapes are not dessert grapes so they are really quite sharp, usually with cordials I add half the amount of sugar to finished liquid product. This means if your strained liquid is 2 litres you may need to add 1 kilogram of sugar.
Return your grape juice to the pan and heat to dissolve the sugar, it is wise to add the sugar a little at a time so that you can stop when you find it sweet enough for your taste buds, this will also depend on how sweet your grapes are too. Bear in mind this is a cordial so it will appear a little syrupy and the mixture will need to be diluted with water to drink.
Once the sugar has dissolved you can bottle up in your sterilised bottles or decant into freezable bottles to store.
We have actually made three large batches of this cordial now, and stored many litres in the freezer for Christmas and the winter season. It can also be diluted with sparkling water or lemonade if you fancy a change from still juice. The children are looking forward to a glass with their dinner over the festive season.