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Wife, Mother, Mimi, lover of all things creative... sewing, embroidery, painting, collage... God and family are the most important things in my life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Canning Grape Juice

A few years ago my husband and I bought the most amazing muscadine and scuppernong juice at arts and craft festival near Cade's Cove. It was wonderful in flavor and reported to be very beneficial to one's health. I always wanted to try and can some, but never had enough fruit to afford the opportunity until last week when some friends offered to let us come and pick from their arbor full of seven different species of grapes.

It was suffocatingly hot and I wasn't really excited about the outing to start with, even though I was greatly anticipating the enjoyment of the end product.

When we arrived I was amazed at the beauty of the arbor and the fruit heavily cascading from the canopy in every direction, and in a variety of hues. There were grapes of varying tones of green, gold, purple, violet, and some bordering on red. The sizes varied almost as much as the colors.

Some hung in clusters that you could pick by the handful, and others hung in singles.

Of course, we sampled as we picked and the taste and textures were as individual as the appearance of the fruit. An array of birds were none too happy at our carrying off a large bounty from what they obviously viewed as their private stock. Some put up a fuss, but thankfully that's all they did.

We came home with full tummies and high hopes for our own pantry to soon be stocked with purple or golden nectar.

We decided to just mix the varieties and see what happened.
After reading many sites on canning grape juice and realizing that there was several different ways to do it, using specific equipment like a steam juicer for many of them, I opted to try the two methods that didn't require special equipment since I did not have any. I was surprised that all of the methods I found called for sugar. I was hoping to stay away from that. I decided to use the least possible amount of sugar figuring that we could always add it later if it was needed. The first strategy I finally decided to try called for mashing the grapes, cooking them, squeezing them, straining them twice, heating the juice again adding sugar and making sure it melted, pouring the juice into sterilized jars and processing it. It was concentrated and will need to have water and a little more sweetener added to it when we open it. It was pretty labor intensive especially trying to squeeze the juice from the grapes manually using nothing but cheesecloth and a strainer. I'll be on the look out for a food mill before I try this again!

I also read about an old time, quick way of making juice by adding a cup and a third of clean grapes to a sterilized jar along with a third a cup of sugar, then pouring boiling water over the grapes and sugar and processing for twenty-five minutes. This seemed much too easy to be good, but I tried it just to see. We sampled a jar the next morning after cooling it down, then refrigerating it. It seemed a little on the sweet side to me, with a taste that wasn't as flavorful as I would have liked. I suspect that it will have a stronger grape taste when it sits a little longer. Using a pressure canner to infuse the grape flavor would have been a good idea. I may borrow one from a friend if I try this again, and I will definitely use less sugar.

1 comment:

  1. I don't have any special equipment either. I made my grape juice how my mom used to do it which is the method you mention of cooking the grapes and then straining them and straining again and then canning. Only she never added sugar. I remember it always being sweet enough (she used concords). But when I got my hands on some concords and canned the juice it was on the tart side. I ended up adding a little sugar to it later. I prefer to add later. My son wanted it sweeter at first (he has a serious sweet tooth) but then he ended up liking it more tart.