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Friday, September 26, 2014

Concord Grape Juice

Autumn, a time of harvesting before fields and orchards lay bare for the long winter months ahead.  A certain urgency to gather and preserve instinctively overtakes the mind in anticipation of enjoying a taste of summer in the middle of the oncoming winter.

This was the time of year for my father to bring out the wine press; stacks of wooden crates filled with grapes replaced the bushel baskets of tomatoes.  The fragrance from freshly squeezed grapes filled the air as they released their juices which eventually fermented and became the year’s wine supply.

I never took part in the wine making process; it was my father’s work along with a little help from my mother but for years I had a grape experience of my own.  Having access to bushels of concord grapes from a most fruitful vine in a family member’s back yard, it was time to get creative with the yearly abundance.  The purchase of a steam juicer turned out to be just the equipment to turn those grapes into fragrant juice and in turn a most delicious grape jelly!

It’s been several years now that the vine is no more and the juicing pot sits on the shelf… until today.  Some concord grapes unexpectedly came my way bringing back so many memories and an overwhelming desire to pull that juicer out of retirement.

Definitely didn’t make enough juice for a year’s supply but just enough to make a batch of absolutely delicious grape jelly!

Concord Grape Juice

I purchased this Steam Juicer many years ago and used it to make apple and grape juice for my children.  Apple and Grape jelly also became a pantry staple during those years.  Although there are different ways to extract juice from grapes this method is the cleanest and in my opinion most efficient way to get every drop of juice from the delicious juicy grapes.
The grapes I gratefully received this week weighed in at 2 pounds 3 ounces, a far cry from the bushels processed in years gone by.  Not sure how much juice I was going to end up with but was excited to see enough to make a batch of grape jelly pouring into that mason jar!
A house filled with the fragrant aroma of grape juice, sweet memories of days gone by and enough grape jelly to enjoy and share!

Steam Juicer

Water pan

Food basket

Juice kettle

1. Washed grapes are placed in food basket, no need
to remove stems or pits. This is placed over the
simmering water pan.

2. In less than 10 minutes the grapes begin releasing
juice which collects in the juice kettle and overflows
into the rubber tube. The tube is clamped
until steaming process is over.

3. After steaming one hour heat is turned off and
clamp is removed allowing juice to pour into jars.

4. Grapes release all of their juices. The stems, pits
 and skins can be composted.

Grape Jelly

Now for the jelly... if you can read English or French and follow simple directions, then making this jelly shouldn’t pose any problem. An older instruction sheet from the fruit pectin box gave a recipe for grape jelly made from bottled store bought juice. This recipe is not included on the more recent inserts. Use only pure grape juice, Welche's brand worked well when I made a batch one year although it can't compare to juicing your own grapes.


Grape Jelly from Bottled Juice
2 cups grape juice
1 cup water
1 box Certo fruit pectin
3 1/2 cups sugar

Follow instructions on insert found inside Certo box under Cooked Jams

Notes, Tips, and Suggestions
  • For anyone interested in acquiring a steam juicer it’s available at:           http://www.amazon.com/Back-Basics-A12-Aluminum-Juicer/dp/B0007VW61S 
  • Vegetables as well as fruit and fish can be processed in the steamer. Makes a delicious clear chicken broth as well.

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