Fresh preserved grapes

There are the usual ways to preserve your crops and then there are some really odd ways. By this time of the year most gardeners have freezers and pantry shelves well-stocked preserved harvests. But new to me is a method of keeping grapes. No, it’s not as wine or even vinegar and it’s not as sultanas or raisins either. A traditional method for preserving grapes so they stay fresh as a bunch is to encase them in clay!

While you’d think the grapes would just ferment inside the clay shell, the fruit stays fresh for many months. This preservation method, using straw and mud is called kangina (or gangina) and has been used in northern Afghanistan for centuries.

A kangina is formed from two bowl-shaped pieces of a clay-rich mud. The fresh bunches of grapes are placed in one ‘bowl’ then sealed with the second piece forming a lid. The result looks like a spaceship or a loaf of sour dough bread. Kanginas are n stored in a cool, dark cellar or buried. When they are cracked open the grapes are fresh and succulent and fetch a good price through winter or early spring when other fresh fruit is scarce.

Here’s a link to a Twitter video of cracking open a kangina in Afghanistan.

Jennifer Stackhouse

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