Wild Grape Juice – Čhuŋwíyapehe Iyúwi Haŋpí

Wild grapes. Čhuŋwíyapehe iyúwi. Vitis riparia.

I like wild grapes so much better than the domestic ones. They’re the perfect mix of tart and sweet, and there’s also the element of appreciating something you have to work for, since (at least on Standing Rock) harvesting wild grapes involves a trip into the woods, and usually at least a few minor brushes with poison ivy.

Wild grapes are much tarter than the domestic ones, and it takes a lot more of them to make a good grape juice. But my Anishinaabe friend makes and freezes a bunch each year, for use throughout the winter. This picture was fresh out of the freezer in late February. She mixes in a bit of sweetener (honey, perhaps? I don’t remember.) so it is not too sour.

I’m don’t drink juice often enough to try this at home, so I don’t have any wild grape juice recipes to share. But I do appreciate the occasional cup when I visit her. When I drink domestic grape juice from the store, the intense sweetness burns my throat. But with this wild grape juice, it when you drink it, it feels healthy and good.

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