Thursday, August 30, 2012
Last week was the Week of the Grapes around here. 13 pounds of these beauties (and a few spiders and earwigs) were bestowed upon me. I was mighty tempted to make grape jam. Really tempted. Tempted so much so that I marked up all sorts of grape options in my jam books. Alas, I still have a lot of jam in the cellar from last year, so I went with the more sensible choice of grape juice. I couldn't decide which method I wanted to use, so I tried them both!
A big thank you to Paul for helping me wash, stem and sort. Twice.
The first batch I made was a slightly sweetened juice. We used 1/3 cup of cane sugar in each quart jar and somewhere between 1.5 to 2 cups of grapes. Both ingredients went into hot, sterilized jars.
We then poured in boiling water and tapped them a few times to work out the air bubbles.
These jars got their lids and rings and then took a hot water bath for 30 minutes followed by a 5 minute rest in the canner. Since I had the siphoning issue with my plums, I have been taking precautions to prevent siphoning. This method is a slightly lazier version of the version my dad has used to make juice out of my grandma's grapes. I was hoping to recreate that taste, but I didn't see any reason to make the simple syrup separately, as he does. I was worried when these came out of the canner since the sugar hadn't dissolved and looked to be a solid layer on the bottom of the jar. I was really glad when the sugar dissolved on its own throughout the next few days. Since finishing this batch, the water had turned purple. After 2-3 months, the juice should be at its full flavor.
Round 2 was a much more time consuming method, but yielded a pure juice with no added sweetener.
We started with about 8 pounds of grapes.
They went into my jam pot and I mashed, mashed, mashed them. When they were pretty well mashed, I added some filtered water.
I let them cook until the flesh was broken down and it was really juicy.
Then, to the strainers it went! I had to get creative with straining scenarios since these needed to fit in the fridge. I've got the grapes in strainers over bowls with 2 layers of cheesecloth. They strained for 2 days.
Supposedly you can "polish" the juice by straining it through a coffee filter before canning it. Pfsht. After giving it a try, I quickly determined it wasn't worth the effort and time.
I was careful to leave the big grains of sediment behind. I read that this is what is used to make cream of tartar. Neato. This method was largely based on info from this extension site. I processed this in a hot water bath in pint jars per the instructions on that site.
And, there it is! The yield from 13 pounds of grapes and 5 days of labor. The 2 labeled jars went to my grape supplier, of course. I labeled the unsweetened jar as "Mouth Puckering Grape Juice" because it definitely is tart and strong enough to at once delight and pucker the mouth. I look forward to seeing how the two versions differ.
Posted by Trinity at 7:00 AM