Do you grow your own grapes? Do you hunt for wild grapes? What do you do with your grapes, fresh eating for some? Use the Grape Leaves in cooking? Do you make your own juice, jelly or do you make homemade wine?
We started our mini-vineyard the year after we moved in, and we have had small crops before but this year was the first year we were to get our first big crop and the vines have outdone themselves! We have bowl after bowl of heaping piles of fresh grapes, about half the grapes of ripened at this point, with the rest coming right along, the fresh local grapes are in the store at 4.99 for their baskets, we have picked an amount to date that would cost us about 90 dollars if we were buying them, and as those are regular grapes with no control over what was used on them, vs ours where the only thing that controlled bugs was the huge spiders that made the plants their homes, and boy do the spiders love those grape vines..
Step one for making homemade grape Juice.. Pick the grapes..
Step Two, sit down and carefully pick the grapes off the vine, cleaning as you go, then wash them with cool water and allow them to sit draining for ten min, then put them into your steel cooking pot, either wash your hands well and crush them out, or use a big sturdy potato masher, some of the books say to add water to cover, I don’t, I want my juice to be super strong, I will add the water when I make it into drinking juice later, I want to use as few canning jars as reasonable.
I find with some crushing of the grapes, I get juice to come about half way up on the grapes, simmer at a med-heat till cooked though-about 30 min, then you have two choices, you can either a) carefully pour (remember its hot and will splash) the hot grape mush into a big linen jelly bag and hang over a bowl to drain in for at least two hours up to overnight, what you are left with will look this (if you are using dark blue grapes) The Choice number 2, is to use your hand powered machine with the grape screen, this post show’s it at work using the tomato sauce or apple sauce screen.
Step 3, jar up and put in the fridge for a day to allow the juice to settle, carefully pour out the top juice, leaving as much of the particles on the bottom to stay there, measure your juice and put into your big steel pot, bring up to a slow simmer (don’t boil the juice) you can add sugar to your taste if you want, personally I am quite surprised at how acid tasting my homemade grape juice is, the taste is amazing, and I tend to put 2 cups of juice for every cup of sugar for my canning juice.
Step 4, Prepare your hot pint jars, and fill with your hot grape juice, and hot water bath for 20 min, cool and store in your dark cool cellar, I personally find it quite strong and we use it 3 parts water to 1 part of our homemade juice for drinking.