Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Became of the Grapes

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.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Trinity. I still don't know how you find time in your day to do all these cool things. Yum! So impressive.


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