What do you do when you have an overabundant harvest of grapes in your garden?
Despite my very apparent and sad neglect of our grapevine, year after year, it remains faithful.
Even after eating our abundant fair share, giving them away and letting many, many of them shrivel up or fall to the ground, there were still heaps and heaps of heavy bunches of these dark purple grapes left on our vine.
Earlier this week while I was working, one of my little girls noticed a generously sized bunch of grapes, hanging very low close to the ground, peeking out from under the leaves. She enquired about it and asked if she could try them. I generally do not offer these grapes to the kids on a regular basis as these grapes happen to have pips in them. So I warned her about the pips, but she was still keen to try them. So I said okay, as long as she was careful about the pips.
Without missing a beat, she plucked one off, popped them into her mouth, spat out the pip and ate it up. Then she turned to me and asked for more. So I plucked a small bunch for her, gave it a wash at the tap and handed it to her. She skipped off happily clutching her bunch of grapes, popping them into her mouth at intervals.
As expected, the rest of the gang, seeing their friend with the grapes came up to me clamouring for their share. I plucked a small bunch of each of them, washed them and they scurried off happily to eat their grapes. I watched them all like a hawk for any inkling of trouble with the pips. But they all instinctively seem to know how to handle the pips like pros.
And then they came back to me for more.
In a moment of inpiration, I decided to turn this into an impromptu sensory activity. I rounded up all the kids to help gather bunches and bunches of grapes in buckets and baskets. We carried them over to the activity table. I set out several tubs of water and let the children just have free reign with the grapes and water.
They swirled the grapes around in the water, plucked them off the stems, scooping and gathering them into various cups and containers. They pretended to cook 'grape soup', 'grape pies', 'grape cakes'. And along the way, popped a few in their mouths as they played.
(It reminded me a little of the way they played with the edible water beads activity I had set up previously).
I gathered all the grapes leftover from the sensory play that were not crushed and squashed. The children helped me to pluck the remaining ones off the stems and we gave them a good wash. I decided to make some grape jam. The children were super excited about it. "We can make grape jam ice cream!" one of the girls suggested excitedly.
After blending the grapes and sieving out the pulp, I let the children all have a try of the fresh grape juice. "Yummy!" they all grinned as they sipped the juice. We poured the juice into a large pot and I added some sugar and placed it on the stove to simmer away
Freshly made grape jam to spread on our toast for afternoon tea. Plus a bit extra for each child to take home to share with their families. The perfect way to round off a very ‘grapey’ day.