Monday, September 27, 2010

Juicing the First Grapes

The day has finally arrived - time to juice the grapes!

This has been a weird year for the garden and the grapes - this same weekend last year saw all the grapes sweet and ready...

... this year most of the grapes are still sour. There were enough ready to pick, though, so we loaded up a bucket.

Here's a nice bundle. It seems like this year's crop has many more small, wimpy berries. The ones that grew are nice and big, though, and very sweet.

Juicing grapes is pretty time consuming - the picking is fun, but the stemming takes a while.

The hornets have reallyl started hitting the berries hard this week too - another indicator that they are ready to juice.

We put out a hornet trap... and it filled up. The old water from canning peaches we left out on the porch also filled up!

Yuck! Alot of the big, black hornets this year, too.

We mentioned it last year, but the juice recipe is simple - 1.5 cups of grapes, 0.5 cups of sugar. Fill with boiling water and then waterbath (boiling) for 20 minutes.

You can add more sugar before, or after when you mix it up 1:1 with water. Either way, it is great!

Here is the 'before'...

... and the 'after' when adding the boiling water.

After canning, the jars need to sit for a few weeks to 'stew' - it takes about 3 weeks before the sugar completely disolves, and the juice turns a deep purple.

This year we 'pressed' some grapes for juice. We tried some without cooking the berries to strain out the seeds.

5 cups of grapes => about 2 cups of juice.

Pretty simple and easy.

We're going to be making jam this year with local honey, and will be using "pressed" juice, and also juice from cooking the grapes to strain out the seeds (like the grape pie filling).

Here is the finished juice - very fragrant and tastes just like the fresh grapes. Very different than the canned juice we make.

We'll be doing more juice, jam, and of course Grape Pie in the next few weeks as the rest of the grapes ripen.

Stay tuned.