Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Canning Grape Juice

My first juice making marathon has got to be the singular most loving thing I've completed for my second-born who officially drinks his weight in juice every single day. My attempts at mothering have failed. Juice Abhorrer's unite. He loves juice. What shall a conscientious mother do? Find some grape vines, pick those grapes and juice them. So tedious. So purple. E.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.  


I can't be sure of the type of grapes used. Does purple count? One of my neighbors has rows upon rows of grapes and he offered them to me, for free! I'm there.
 

















My Dad, the two boys and I were swatting at bees hoping me, the highly allergic woman, wouldn't find her death by bee picking for about 3 hours. We brought home four 5-gallon buckets. Wash em' and pick em' over real good. Even if you do get a couple stems in your grapes it won't really matter because you'll do some straining later. 
I was very haphazard in this juice making experiment. I filled my stock pot with the grapes almost full, as you can see. BUT! The grapes didn't have any room to breathe or release their juices, so I am suggesting that you pick the same amount of grapes as I (a five gallon bucket) and use two stock pots. Giving the grapes room to do their thang. Just know this method is not tested and you are proceeding at your own risk.




















Warning: Everything you are about to use during your Juice Making Marathon will be stained deep purple. No one (read: my Mother) told me that. My favorite OXO wooden spoon is no longer wooden colored, it is grape colored. And smells of grapes. I think a trip to The Wooden Spoon Store is in my future.



















Don't boil the grapes. Just "stew" them. See how my pot is about overflowing with grapes? Yeah, use two pots. Or less grapes. 



The Kerr canning cookbook told me to use 1/2 cup of sugar per quart jar, but I used 1/4 cup because I felt I could always add sugar later, but you can never take it away. You also have to take into account how sweet your grapes are. 




















This was the most tedious and back-breaking part of the job. William's Sonoma can help you out with this canning device or you could find one at an antique shop to make this part easier. I used a spatula and a fine mesh sieve. And it took about 30. long. minutes. to work all the grapes through the strainer. 
Then I decided to strain the juice again. But I quickly changed my mind after I discovered my dish towel is a million times thicker than cheese cloth, which is what a person who has access to specialty stores would use, but some people can't travel farther than a 10 mile radius from their homes because their five year old son has an anxiety attack being in the car longer than 30 minutes sane person would use. And isn't pulp good for fiber and nutrients? So I ditched the third straining and into the jars the pulpy juice went. 






Now do a mountain of dishes. 
The canning part itself is *hopefully* explained in detail below. My mother has given me all her 40 years of canning wisdom, which I hope you can use!

Printable Recipe Here

Grape Juice
yield: 12 quarts

prep time: 2-3 hours
cook time: 3-4 hours

2 Five gallon buckets of grapes
Water
Cane sugar

Prepare stock pots: Use two stock pots and fill 3/4 full with cleaned, de-stemmed grapes. Fill with water 2" from the top. 

Boil grapes: Place pots with covers slightly ajar over medium heat and bring slowly up to a very gentle "stew." Do not boil. Stir occasionally. Cook grapes in this way until they become soft and burst from their skins. Takes about two hours. Strain through a large colander. Strain again through a sieve, pushing on solids to release juice into a large bowl. Strain through a cheese cloth, if desired, or leave pulpy. 

Prepare Mason jars: Clean jars well in dishwasher or by hand. Make sure canning tops are sanitary and there is no debris on the tops. Place lids in a small bowl and pour boiling water over the lids to soften the rubber seal. Put 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sugar in the bottom of each Mason jar using a funnel. Pour hot juice into jars using a ladle or measuring cup. Stir once to incorporate sugar. Place lids and screw tops on jars and tighten slightly, but not extremely tight because this could cause the jars to crack.

Prepare water bath: Place towel in the bottom of a large kettle or use the rack that is sold with some canning pots. Place jars in the rack or on top of the towel (note: if you are not using a rack the possibility of cracked jars increases). Put warm to almost hot water in the pot - covering the jars. Place over high heat, covered, and bring to a rapid boil (takes about 30 minutes). Boil hard for 10 minutes. Remove jars with a rubber tongs immediately and cool to room temp. Shelf stable for at least a year.

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