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.
I'd call myself a maker. More specifically: a knitter, an urban gardener, a food preserver, a cook, a baker, a reader, an aspiring photographer, a budding sewist and an all-around dabbler.
I enjoy using this space to record the things I see, make, eat, and do. My aim is to capture and share with you much of what floats my boat. Chances are you are here because it floats your boat, too!
My husband and co-conspirator on the much linked to Mega Man hat. He is the house expert when it comes to all things with electrical cords/chargers and/or anything that requires configuring. When I first met Paul he was a smoker and a vegetarian. Now he is a non-smoker who enjoys making smoked meat in his BBQ. Paul recently dove headfirst into brewing beer and is quickly acquiring mad brewing skills. If you are really lucky, he will invite you to one of his Meat Meet Supper Club dinners or Beer Release parties.
Cast of Characters: Tchazo
Tchazo, our Weimaraner, was born 3 days before Paul and I had our first date. During our second date, Paul and I egged each other on about getting dogs. Eight weeks later, Tchazo became a part of our lives! At first I thought he was kind of a jerk because he kept punching me in the face (Tchazo, not Paul!) when I tried to be alpha dog. It turns he is a wonderful dog and puppies in general are cute jerks. Tchazo loves life, especially the parts that include eating, smelling, sunbathing, playing and cuddling on the bed. Also, he is smart and, if you come over, he will likely trick you into scratching his butt.
Cast of Characters: Fanny
Fanny is the most recent addition to our family, joining us in 2008. When we met Fanny at a shelter in Boston, we thought she was a small, adult cat. We were wrong. She must have been less than a year old, because when we brought her home and fed her, she kept getting bigger and bigger and fluffier and fluffier. The shelter named her Faneuil after Faneuil Hall, but we changed her name to Fanny. We think it makes for a lot of entertaining variations. I imagine some searchers who end up at my blog are not getting what they hoped for, given what “fanny” is slang for in a few countries. Our Fanny is a polydactyl cat with a fused or “super” claw. She has taught me that it is possible for cats to cackle, which you would be likely to hear if she spots a squirrel while you are here!
Cast of Characters: Jack
I adopted Jack at about the same time Paul bought Tchazo (see previous note about egging each other on), but since Tchazo was young and needed to stay with his mom for a few more weeks, Jack came into our house first. For a while, he HATED Tchazo but they eventually became 24-7 buddies. After nearly 11 years together, we had to put Jack down in May of 2013. Jack was a little crazy in the head, but we learned how to live with it. His favorite things included licking the floor, lying under the couch and gazing at me longingly. Jack was physically incapable of wagging his tail whilst being petted. I like to think it is because he was soaking up the love so intensely that it required his full concentration.