Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homemade Grape Juice

Concord grapes; one of Earth's wonderful treasures.
Up close, dangling from the vine, they look like jewels!

My good friend, Monica, showed me how to easily make grape juice.
You need grapes, quart jars, canning lids and rings, sugar, a pot of boiling water and a water bath canner.

First, place your jars in a large pot of water, bringing to a boil to sterilize. You'll get them out one at a time as you use them.
Also at this time; place your canning lids and rings in smaller pots of water and simmer until you need them.

Carefully wash your grapes, discarding any over-ripe or rotten ones. You can leave them on the stem.

Once they're clean, put clusters of grapes in a hot jar, packing them in firmly but not too tight.

Pour in 1/2 a cup of sugar on top of the grapes. Using a funnel keeps the rim of the jar clean.

Then, ladle in boiling water to fill the jar, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
Use a butter knife to slide down into the sides of the jar, releasing any air bubbles.

Clean the rim of the jar to be sure the surface is free of sugar or liquids. Then, place a hot jar lid on top, followed by a ring. Close firmly.
The sugar settles to the bottom.

I like to tip the jar back and forth a few times in order to help the sugar dissolve.

Place jars into boiling water canner with hot water. (water must be at least two inches over the top of the jars) Let them sit until you have enough to can.
Then bring to a full rolling boil and cover. Let the grapes boil for 10-15 minutes processing time.
Important- look up times for canning grape juice for your area. High altitudes are different.
After they've cooked for the allotted time, turn off the burner and let jars sit another 5 minutes before removing from canner.

Carefully remove jars one by one and set on a towel on the counter. Let sit undisturbed for 8-12 hours. They will seal. To test the seals once they've cooled, push on the top of jar lids. If it's sealed, it will be flat with no give. Unsealed jars will be flexible.

It's best to let juice sit for several weeks/months in order to concentrate the flavor.
When you're ready to drink some; simply strain the juice (squeeze grapes gently to extract more juice) into a pitcher. You can drink it straight or add water to dilute.

Beautiful nectar!

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