Have you ever come across a wonderful deal on grapes and thought, “I’d love to make my own grape juice?”
However, you quickly remember you haven’t made grape juice a day in your life, or it could be a huge process, and with those thoughts you find yourself continuing to stroll past a great deal.
Well, don’t feel like you have to keep strolling past the grapes the next time you find a great deal. I’m going to share with you the recipe I use every year to make my own grape juice.
When we first moved to our property we discovered we had a vineyard. I wanted to ensure I didn’t let them go to waste, which meant I had to learn how to make juice.
Here’s how I do it:
First Things First
The recipe I use is adapted from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. If you’re new to preserving your own food, it’s a great resource to keep around.
This book will walk you through each step in canning almost anything you could want to preserve. Since credit is now given where it’s due, let’s walk through the process of making grape juice:
1. Clean and Prep Your Grapes
When you begin the process of making grapes, you’ll need to be sure you’ve cleaned them thoroughly. You do this by removing all of the stems from the grapes.
From there, place the grapes in cold water and splash them around in the sink. This should remove any dirt from them.
When you’ve finished cleaning your grapes you’re ready to crush them. I like to use my potato masher and a little bit of muscle to get the job done.
After the grapes have been crushed, measure to see how many gallons you have. This will dictate your recipe which makes this step vital to the process.
2. Add Water and Cook
Once you know how many gallons of grapes you have, you’ll need to add them to a pot and add 1 cup of water per gallon of grapes.
Next, you’ll begin to cook the crushed grapes. You don’t want the grapes to boil, only heat through. Be sure to stir them during this process to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
When your grapes have heated (without boiling) you’re ready for the next step in the process.
3. Run Through the Food Mill
Some people will strain their grapes through layers of cheesecloth. If you don’t have a food mill, this will get the job done.
However, I love my food mill because it simplifies the process. I have a manual food mill that I place on top of a soup pot. I ladle grapes into the food mill and begin turning the crank to crush them even more.
This will hold any seeds, pulp, or skins at the top of the food mill while the juice runs into the soup pot below. I do this until all of my cooked grapes have been processed.
4. The Waiting Period
When you’ve juiced all of your grapes, pop them in the refrigerator and let them sit for a day. During this time, you’ll notice there will be a film or sediment which rises to the top of the pot. This is normal.
However, be sure you don’t disturb the sediment during this cooling-off period.
5. Strain the Juice Again
When the 24 hours are up, you’re going to run the juice through the food mill (or cheesecloth) again. Ladle scoops of the previous day’s work into the food mill without mixing the juice.
You don’t want to stir the film or sediment back into the juice if you can help it. When the juice has all been strained the second time, you’re ready to move on in the process.
6. Add the Sugar and Cook (Again)
Begin this step by measuring how much juice you have after you’ve strained your grapes twice. For each gallon add 1-2 cups of sugar per gallon.
I’m not one who loves overly sweet things, which leads me to stay between a cup to a cup and a half of sugar per gallon.
However, if you love your juice sweet, you might want to add the entire 2 cups. This is the great thing about making your own. You can add or subtract the amounts of ingredients to suit your taste.
Once the sugar has been added to the juice, you’ll need to put it back on your stove and heat for 5 minutes.
Again, you don’t want the juice to boil. Be sure to stir your juice to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
When you know the juice is heated, you’re ready to move on with the process.
7. Preserve the Juice
Our final step in the process is preserving your grape juice. You should ladle your hot juice into hot, sanitized canning jars.
Be sure to leave room at the top of the jar, ¼ to ½-inch of headspace should do the trick. This is to give the canning lid a flat surface during the canning process to make sure the seal sticks adequately to the jar.
Next, apply a fresh lid with a ring to the top of the jar and secure. Place the jars in a water bath canner. Both pints and quarts should be processed for 15 minutes in the water bath canner.
Remember, you don’t begin to count the 15 minutes until the water in the canner has begun to boil.
When the 15 minutes is up, use your jar grabbers to remove the jars from the canner. Place them on a padded surface to avoid scorching your counters or table-top.
Allow the jars to sit for 24 hours before checking to ensure the jars have sealed. When you know the jars have sealed properly, add your labels, and store them on your pantry shelf until you’re ready to use them.
More Grape Juice Recipes to Try
If you come across a deal at the grocery store every now and again, you may only can enough juice for you to drink on occasion.
However, if you decide to grow your own grapes, you may be wondering what you can do with all of the juice you’ve canned.
Well, here are a few ideas:
1. Homemade Grape Soda
This recipe is calling our homemade grape juice a ‘grape syrup.’ Regardless of what you call it, you only need to chill your grape juice before making this soda.
When your juice is chilled, you toss in some sparkling water and have a delicious homemade beverage in no time flat.
2. Grape Slushie
If you’d enjoy a delicious grape slushie, try using your grape juice to get this recipe started. Instead of using frozen grapes (per the recipe), try freezing your grape juice.
When your juice is frozen, mix it with water and blend. You should have a delicious and healthy slushie in minutes.
3. Grape Juice Wine
Are you a wine drinker? Would you like to make your own wine for your enjoyment? Well, you’ll love this idea.
You can take your homemade grape juice and turn it into your own signature wine. It requires only a few steps, and you’ll be well on your way.
4. Grape Jelly
Grape jelly was one of the first items I ever made from scratch and preserved. You can easily take your homemade grape juice and turn it into jelly.
This recipe walks you through each step of the process. It doesn’t require much time and would be something easy for a beginning canner to try out.
5. Lacto Fermented Soda
Are you paying close attention to your gut health? Well, you’ll be happy to know you can turn your grape juice into a lacto-fermented soda.
According to this recipe, it takes around 4 days for your soda to be complete. You can have a healthy and delicious drink made totally from scratch with very little effort made from your homemade grape juice.
Well, you now know how to make your own grape juice. Hopefully, you feel confident in attempting to make this product by yourself now.
If you’re new to canning and are feeling intimidated by the process, this recipe could be a great place for you to start because it’s with a water bath canner.
Once you master water bath canning, you can dive into the world of pressure canning.
Also, you have 5 recipes that are great for utilizing the grape juice product you made.
Since you’re in the know about making and preserving your own grape juice, and you know how to utilize the grape juice aside from drinking it straight from the jar, you should be ready to enjoy your grape harvest this year.