On my Bucket List 'to do this year' was to pick grapes and can grape juice. I wasn't able to do it last year and I really wanted to make sure it happened this year! It did! Yay! It feels nice to actually get something done that you would like to, you know? However, John had a mix-up with his days off, and we ended up not being able to take off the days we were going to go pick, but my dad was kind enough to go pick them for me and had them ready for me to start turning into juice when I got there.
Really, it's super easy. I told my dad I wanted him to teach me before he died. :) Although, I watched my parents doing it all growing up and probably could have done it on my own, I thought it might be nice to have a mentor around. Now, I know I can do it by myself and will have this blog post to teach my kids if I'm not around someday to do it...
I canned grape juice a few years back a different way. I thought I blogged about it, but I can't find the post with pictures.... I tried a different way than my parents normally did. You put the grapes in a jar with sugar and water and seal it.
This year, I wanted to do it the way my parents did it, basically making a grape juice concentrate. As I was making it this year, I wondered if you could just freeze what we made... We'll see about that next year.
This grape juice has no sugar, it is pure grape juice. Growing up, when we had company for dinner we always served grape juice mixed with 7-Up or Sprite - basically our own sparkling grape juice! Now, I have some for my house!!!
There are a few different ways you can make grape juice, a lot of people just do it in a pot on the stove, but my parents have a juice maker thingy. Yes, that is the technical term...
How to make your own Grape Juice (really grape juice concentrate)
1. First take your grapes and wash them. Really well...
2. Remove your grapes from the stems. Into the top of your grape juice maker thingy... the steamer section.
3. Fill the bottom part of the steamer/juicer to the line and bring it to a boil on the stove top.
4. Assemble all 3 parts of steamer with the grapes on top, and let steam until grapes release their juice and juice starts to fill up in the middle portion of maker.
5. Heat your jars and lids on the stove upside down until hot.
6. Fill jars (they must be hot) and put on lids and turn the lids as tight as you can make them go.
7. Let cool, and store! Make sure they sealed! (It is super satisfying to hear the lids seal with a pop when you are canning!)
8. Repeat as many times until all your grapes are gone.
9. Once one batch stops releasing juice, take the pulp out and strain it over a bowl, you will get a little more juice to recycle through. Add your next batch of grapes to steamer.
As the grapes steam they release the juice. Every now and then stir your grapes. If you don't have enough juice to fill a jar recycle that juice through the top where the grapes are, to help the grapes give more juice.
|bottom part of the steamer|
|Juice maker thingy assembled|
|See how there is juice coming up through the hose? That means the middle portion has juice ready to can. My dad is giving the grapes a stir. Jars getting hot ready to fill.|
|Jars in boiling water with the lids|
|Filling the jar! See all the grapes ready to go in the next batch?|
|My juice!!! These are glass jars that my parents have bottled juice in in the past. Back in the day when most juice jars were glass my parents would save them to can in later.|
Grapes are pretty cheap, but if you go picking during the gleaning stage - getting the last grapes on the vine - they are super cheap.