Grape Juice . . . from scratch

First you dig a hole and take a cutting from a Grape Vine . . .

. . . but since you've already done all that preliminary stuff, and have your Grapes picked in a Bucket, we'll start from there:


Step 1:
Fill the Bucket to overflowing outdoors and let it stand for an hour. This should make swimmers or corpses out of any Insects or Spiders that think they're going swimming in your Grape Juice! Then drain the water off. Keep the Grapes wet between this step and the next (washing) step.

Step 2:
Now in your Kitchen, use a large Strainer(preferably) or Collander, for a Grape Washing Machine: Put the Strainer in a Pot or in your Sink and add warm water until the Strainer is half full. Then pick a quart of Grapes into it. No stems, no Raisins, no worm holes or bad spots; just choice ripe Grapes!

Step 3:
Then use your hand for an Agitator, and swirl the Grapes against the sides of the Strainer, in one direction, then the other. Your hand and the rough Strainer and the Grapes rub each other and remove any foreign matter.
If you don't care, then matter doesn't matter; just leave it on the Grapes.

Step 4:
Most of the matter will be washed into the standing warm water, but lift the Strainer and rinse the Grapes with running water to be sure. Then put the quart of clean Grapes in a 2-quart pot. With the back of your fingers or a Potato Masher, crush all the Grapes. You can lick your fingers if no one's LQQKing. You should have about half Juice and half pulp at this point.

Step 5:
Put the pot on a burner set to medium. Let it simmer for 15 minutes. Then put a fine Strainer in a 1-quart bowl, dump the cooked Grapes into the Strainer and put the covered dirty pot aside for later. Take a 1-quart Zipper Freezer Bag and fill it with water. Lay it on the cooked Grapes to press the Juice out. See NOTE below.

Step 6:
You can put this assembly in the refrigerator, or leave it out for the Fruit Flies. How do those tiny rascals get into the house?! The next morning, or whenever the Strainer stops dripping, pour the Juice into a Measuring Container so you know how much you have. 

Step 7:
Then put the pulp from the Strainer back into that covered dirty pot and add as much water as you have Grape Juice. Stir this mixture vigorously, and pour it through the Strainer like you did the Cooked Grapes. Put the Plastic Bag on for 10 minutes. Then use the back side of a knife to scrape the pulp  from the outside of the Strainer into the Juice; this is flavorful stuff !

Now you have a container of Grape Squeezin's and an equal amount of Grapish water. Pour the two together. Add 2 teaspoons of Granulated Sugar for each Cup of Blended Juice. Stirr to dissolve the Sugar. If you don't like it, change the amount of Sugar. Or drink something else; send me the Juice. 

5 gallons of Grapes will yield about 1 gallon of Juice. The Blending Water will increase that to 2 gallons. If you plan to freeze the Juice, add the water and Sugar AFTER it is thawed for use. Frozen Juice should keep for 6 months to a year.

Pressing the Juice from the cooked Grapes (Step 5, above), can also be done by putting the cooked and crushed Graped in a container with a spout or hole in the lid. Invert this container in a pot with a thin object underneath to keep it from sealing to the bottom. Gravity will press most of the Juice out in a day or two.

Concord Grape Juice is a determined stain 
on utensils,clothing, and counter tops!!

(1) - It is easiest to work with a pint or quart of Grapes at a time. If you are processing large amounts by hand, wash and crush a pint or quart of Grapes and then add them to a larger container to cook them. It is also easier to see debris among fewer Grapes.

(2) - Grapes will release from the stem easier, if you "Roll" them off the stem instead of pulling straight out. This will usually tear a piece of skin from the stem area (if they are dead ripe), making it easier to crush them later on.

(3) - You can strain a quart of cooked Grapes for only 10 minutes with the Zip Bag on top, then save the wet pulp in a larger container to further strain it later. Or just add the wet pulp to the Blending Water in step 7; this will produce a stronger drink.

(4) - After you simmer and strain and remove the pulp, that pulp can be washed and the resulting Grapey Water used for the Blending Water in your next batch. When you have removed every last bit of flavor, put the pulp in your Compost bin.

(5) - The very best Juice seems to come from Grapes that are just past their prime for eating. They will have lost their shine and firmness and become just a tad soft. At this stage they are much easier to stem and crush, too. Here in Pennsylvania, that's about September first for Concords.

At Garden Grapevine, we say:
"If you walk past the Grape Arbor and smell the pleasant sweetness of ripe Grapes; they should have been picked yesterday, but today will do."

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