Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Quick and easy grape juice, the old fashioned way

Last Saturday DH and I picked almost 5 (5-gallon) buckets of Concord grapes from my mother's two grapevines. She thinks that's the largest yield since they were planted about 20 years ago. The grapes were beautiful with no sign of Japanese beetles, a serious problem some years.

My sister offered the use of her kitchen for processing -- she lives next door to our mother, and my brother-in-law's mother and stepfather came over to help stem the grapes. It was like a harvest party.

DBIL built a fire in the outdoor fire ring and set a washtub filled with water over the flame. We followed the directions listed below for preparing the jars of grapes, filled them inside then set them in the washtub of boiling water. DBIL and DH (wearing hat in photo) waited for it to return to boil and counted off the minutes till processing was complete. They topped off the water between batches and set the finished jars on a rug placed in a nearby metal wagon. To prevent too sudden temp changes, a light towel was thrown over the cooling jars.

Using the large washtub outside meant the kitchen stove could be used for preparing a homegrown dinner which included corn on the cob, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, Harvey House slaw, green beans, and muskmelon. The grapes were finished processing just in time to sit down on the porch for dinner. Drinking our grape juice this winter definitely will bring back good memories of the day we put it up.

Quick and Easy Grape Juice

Wash and stem firm ripe grapes. Put 2 cups grapes into a hot quart jar. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar or up to 1/4 cup honey. (I use the lesser amount of sugar.) Fill jar with boiling water, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Adjust caps. Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.

Let stand in pantry for several weeks before using. The juice from the grapes is drawn out into the water over time. When ready to drink, pour juice through wire sieve or a coffee filter to remove grapes and any seeds or skins that may be floating loose in the jar. Taste and add 1 to 2 cups of water (sparkling water is a fun choice, too!) to dilute as desired.

If you've never canned using the water bath method, please refer to the latest Ball Blue Book of Preserving or the USDA-funded website, National Center for Home Food Preserving, for detailed directions.

We ended up with enough grapes to make 54 quarts of grape juice concentrate. When reconstituted, it should yield over 80 quarts of juice.

Check out Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes for more good ideas.


Donna said...

Love the easy recipe, thanks for sharing!

Liberty said...

This is a really neat idea- my husband had suggested I do some canning outside, and now I see that it would be a good, workable idea. Neat.

Carolyn said...

donna - Yes, it's easier to let time and the heat of the water bath do the work of juicing the grapes! Just pick and put up. We picked another 2 bushels of grapes on Friday...

liberty - Outdoor canning isn't difficult and it keeps the extra heat and a lot of the mess away from the kitchen. Our neighbors have a couple of propane burners (like a heavy-duty camping stove) which they use for canning on their back deck. Easier to regulate the temp than with the wood fire which means they can pressure can outdoors, too.