What: concord grape juice
Main ingredients and where I got them: The grapes came from my parents’ farm.
How much: I processed one industrial sized bowl of grapes and got about six quarts of juice.
Recipe: I used a steam juicer for the first time and followed these directions. I canned five quarts by processing them for 5 minutes (10 minutes for half gallons) in a boiling water bath.
Concord grapes are the prettiest, and they produce an über-grapey, almost syrupy juice. It’s pretty intense. Some folks add sugar to their grape juice if it’s too tart. I didn’t this time, but I might sneak a spoonful or two of honey in later.
Concord grapes are sweetest if you can wait until just before the season’s first freeze to pick (or buy) them. With the unseasonably torrential rains we’ve been having around here for the last few days, September actually broke a record for the wettest in Oregon’s history. The extra rains are threatening the bumper crop of grapes around western Oregon because the uptake of moisture can cause splitting and encourage mold growth. For wine grapes, a big industry around here, the rains can seriously mess with the sugar content, producing an inferior vintage of wine.
At my parents’ place, the concords were starting to crack, and some creatures (birds?) were harvesting more than their fair share. I decided it was time to reap the bounty before they were all ruined or gone. I leaned that I’m not very fast at cutting grapes, and I’m glad I don’t have to do it for a living.
A steam juicer is a large, relatively expensive thing to own (and store) if you’re only going to use it once or twice a year, but for the job it does, it’s kind of a miracle. You just load the top basket with a bunch of fruit, stems, seeds, and all, and then after an hour or so on the stove, you get to pour debris-free juice out of an easy-to-regulate hose. I stopped by my neighbors’ house the other day, and they had just finished a marathon of de-stemming, crushing, boiling, straining, re-straining, and bottling a bunch of grapes for juice, and it sounded like quite a process compared to the ease of the steam juicer. I told them they should borrow our juicer unit next fall.
My mom bought a Nutri Steamer on sale a couple years ago at Bi-Mart (that always stocks a great selection of canning and preserving supplies in the late summer). I think it cost around $60. You can find a similar one (though it’s a different brand) on Amazon here.
This is part of a collection of posts documenting my food preservation activities this summer/fall (more info here). Please feel free to comment with a link to food preservation activities on your own blogs or links to recipes you’re following or you’d like to try from other blogs.