Have you ever tasted homegrown concord grapes–better yet, homemade concord grape juice? Homemade grape juice is absolutely divine. With its sweet full grape flavor and gorgeous rich purple color, it’s a must try. My mouth is seriously watering just thinking about it. There are many ways to juice grapes, either by straining, pressing or steaming the sweet nectar out of them. When it comes down to it I prefer steam juicing and I’ll tell you why.
A couple years ago we moved into a home with a huge concord grape vine along the back fence. It’s over 30 feet long and has been full of grapes every Fall. I’d never made grape juice before or had fresh concord grapes available.
The grapes on our vine are so beautiful and there is such an abundance each year. The first year, I tried a whole-grape bottling method and using a Victorio strainer (holy moly was that a LOT of work).
This last year I borrowed my mom’s steam juicer; by far the better way to go! I started by picking the grapes after the first frost (the cold frost helps set the sugars in the grapes and makes the juice taste that much sweeter). Trust me, it’s worth the wait for that extra sweetness. Once I picked the grapes, I rinsed them well then filled the kettle strainer on the juice steamer.
There are a lot of great things about using a steamer to juice grapes. One of them being the fact that you can leave the stems on the grapes. This is such a big time saver.
Once the grapes are ready follow the directions on the steamer. Fill the bottom with water and turn the stove on. Once the water is boiling the processing time starts. According to my steamer instructions, it takes about 60 minutes to process a batch. I typically get about 4-5 quarts of juice from each batch. Before starting the process time definitely do a quick google search to find the correct process time for your location (changed with elevation). I ended up processing about 12 batches this year with the grapes from my backyard–we only pick the grapes on our side of the fence too!
Once the process time is complete, I sterilize the tube where the juice comes out then fill my sterilized quart size jars. Another cool thing about this process is that because the grape juice is coming out at practically boiling temperatures it’s already “pasteurized.” It goes into the glass jars with lids and rings and as it cools the lids seal themselves. No need for a water bath or pressure cooker. That right there calls for two big thumbs up!
So that’s pretty much it. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to another juicing method for grapes or store bought grape juice unless I run out of this amazing liquid. This juice comes out strong and delicious. Even though the grapes are being cooked by steam, the juice isn’t watered down. On special occasions or when we have company over and want to share our special juice, we love mixing 1 part grape juice to 1 part lemon-lime soda for a little fruity fizz. You should totally try it on your guests at your next gathering. It’ll be a hit!
What’s your favorite juicing method?