After a long summer of canning many fruits and vegetables, the early fall produces one of the last fruits that need to be preserved; GRAPES!
We have put up grape juice for years, ever since I was a little girl. When the leaves begin to turn colors and the nights are cooler (but not yet freezing) it's time to pick them.
Putting up grape juice also happens to be one of the EASIEST canning processes of them all. Because the high heat of the steam, we don't need to process them in a Boiling Water Bath (which is one less step) because the juice is hot enough to seal the lids from the steam process. Plus, it's like my little reward after putting in so many hours of canning and now I can just sit back and let the Steam Juicer do all the work.
Making Grape Juice with a Steam Juicer
1) Fill the bottom pan up to the line with water. *Make sure that you check the water level during the juicing process and add more if necessary. You don't want it to run dry!
2) Wash grapes and drain off excess water before putting them into the steamer. Steams do not need to be removed.
*We place them higher than the top, as they will eventually cook down and you won't have to make as many separate batches.
4) As the water in the bottom compartment begins to boil, the steam will cook down the grapes and the middle compartment will begin to collect the juice. Steam over continuously boiling water (medium heat) for about 60-75 minutes, or until all the juice has been extracted from the grapes.
5) Have your prepared quart jars ready (hot and sterilized) for the juice. Using the tube on the side of the steamer, fill the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
*You'll see some juice begin to fill the tube; don't worry because you have it clipped at the top and if you have the spout pointing up, the juice won't leak out.
6) Wipe the rim and place lids and bands on the jars. Set on a towel on the counter undisturbed for the next 12 hours to cool and seal.
*We made several types of grape juice (from left to right):
- The darkest one on the left is a mixture of cherry and grape juices.
- Then the next three jars are from concord grapes.
- The next two pinkish ones are also concord grape, but the juices were extracted earlier than the previous three. *The longer you let the grapes steam, the more concentrated (or darker in color) the juice will become.
- The next two jars are a combination of green and concord grapes.
- The final two on the end are from the green grapes only, and they make a white grape juice.
Mix Grape Juice:
*Because the grape juice is a concentrate, you will need to add the following:
Add sugar (about a 1/3 to 1/2 cup; to taste)
Add water (about 3 1/2 cups; to taste)
More Juice Ideas:
Use half of the prepared grape juice (with the water and sugar added) with cranberry juice and part 7-up. Very delicious and makes a nice drink for holiday celebrations (it's perfect that the grape juice is ready by Christmas time!)
*We have found that waiting about 3 months before using the juice, helps to develop a stronger flavor and allows the sediment (which is primarily crystals of tartaric acid) to separate from the juice and settle on the bottom of the jar. These are not harmful, just unappealing. When you pour the grape juice into another container, the sediment will stay at the bottom and you can discard it.