Homemade Grape Juice

Years ago, when we bought our present home, the side fence was covered in Concord grape vines. My father-in-law was delighted to see how prolific our grape crop was, so he gave us a start of his favorite juice grape, a sweet black seedless variety called Blueberry grape. It is the variety we used for this recipe. (We also juice the Concords after the first frost, when they are sweeter.) We now grow enough grapes to keep us in juice all year long. My husband is the juice maker in the family, and our children are good to help pick and process. You will need 70 lbs. of seedless black grapes, Concords, or another type of juice grape to make 12 quarts of juice. We use a steam juicer for this recipe, but one can also extract grape juice by adding several cups of water to the stemmed grapes and boiling as one would when making juice for jelly.

Homemade Grape Juice
70 lbs. grapes
48 c. grape juice from 70 lbs. grapes
2-1/2 c. sugar or more to taste

For those not familiar with a steam juicer, it has four parts: bottom water pan, juice kettle (for collecting the juice), the colander to hold the grapes, and the lid. Begin by filling the bottom water pan with water and place on the stove. Place the empty juice kettle on top of the filled water basin. You can clamp the tube attached to the juice kettle and let the juice collect inside the kettle or direct the tube into a large pot so the juice can drain into it. Then wash 25 lbs. grapes, removing any leaves or rotten grapes. Fill the colander with grapes, then cover with lid. Turn heat on and bring the water to a boil and boil for 1 hour. Stir the grapes after 45 minutes for maximum juice extraction. Pour the juice into a larger pot and set aside. You will repeat this procedure two more times to use all the grapes. Yields vary but with 70 lbs. of grapes you should have roughly 48 cups of juice. Chill the juice overnight to allow sediment to settle and crystallize (which you will filter out the next day). When you are ready to bottle the juice, fill a water bath canner with water and bring to a boil. Boil jar lids to sterilize. Take grape juice from fridge and siphon the juice carefully into another pot, using a plastic tube (or pour through cheesecloth to filter out sediment and crystals). Add sugar to taste while the juice is still cold. Bring to a near boil – about 180 degrees. (Overcooking will change the flavor of your juice.) Place juice into 12 sterilized quart jars. Wipe rims and screw on sterilized lids. Water bath for 15 minutes to seal jars. Makes 12 quarts.

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