We've grown Thompson seedless grapes upon the side of our chain-link fence nearly for decades.
My hubby planted vines primarily for privacy, but once ripened, the bounty is perfect for juice, jellies, and even dried "Nanna Raisins", which my granddaughters absolutely prefers over store-bought.
Come early fall, I pick the mature sweet grapes (even after the first frost) for the very best flavored juice, once they've taken on a dusty white “bloom” and vary from green to gold in color.
I keep my grapes intact with the stems for easier steaming and juicing; it's important to avoid getting any of the larger vines or leaves mixed in with the process. The leaf in my photo below is just for effect. 😉
As shown, my green grapes make a beautiful array of "pink" grape juice. The color intensity stems from how long the juice sits and boils within the steamer-juicer; the longer it does, the darker the color gets and the more concentrated the juice is.
Although the deeper color may be prettier, I perhaps prefer the lighter juice slightly more. Actually, I love it all, as do my friends. Some grow Concord grapes, and we swap jars, mixing half and half for the ultimate grape juice (w/o sugar). For making various jelly flavors; I love to mix this sweet pink grape juice with other sorts, thus I am able to add far less sugar or type of sweetener (to boot).
Being able doing so... is a huge bonus for me!
Utilize two steamers... everything goes sooo much faster, over working with just one!
I've got an old enamel juicer-steamer, which I found in a thrift shop (for just $3.00) a few years back, but I love the beautiful Stainless-Steel Juicer Steamer my dear friend and good neighbor lets me borrow.
The directions work for Concord and other varieties as they do for my yummy "pink" grape juice.
Bottled Grape Juice
by Sharon Anne
Juicing: Layer at least 4 quarts of clean, ripe grape clumps into the perforated steaming basket(s). Cover and set over the bottom water pan(s) filled about 2 inches of the top; bring to a rapid boil. Steam for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the grapes start to look worn-out and faded.
Jars: Have clean, hot sterilized canning jars ready (by holding them in boiling water or a 200°F oven) until you’re ready to fill them. Extract the juice through the rubber tube of the extractor (into a large 2-quart pitcher, set upon a bar-stool) for easier pouring into HOT jars.
Sugar: Add, if desired, but I don't; I find that the "pink" grape juice is sweet enough on it's own, without adding extra sugar (certainly a great health benefit).
Note: Concord grapes are not nearly as sweet as the "pink" juice from my Thompson seedless. My other friend bottles "purple" Concord juice, and then we often swap jars. The varieties of grapes do vary in flavor slightly. They're wonderful separate (mixed together). They make delicious sweet jelly flavors.
Processing: Cap jars immediately with sterilized lids and process in a hot-water bath canner for 30 minutes (both quarts and pints).
Makes: 8 to 12 cups, depending on the juiciness of the grapes. (Generally, you may get 2-3 cups of juice from 1 quart of fresh grapes.)
Now several years back, I had this incredibly HUGE bumper crop of my sweet grapes. Fortunate, I have many neighbors that do not can anymore, so they were more than generous enough to GIFT me boxes and BOXES of quart jars. All I was put out the word on FaceBook that I was in need, and so many came through!
That year, I processed nearly
200 quarts of my beautiful
(light to dark) "pink" grape juice!
Was worth it? Yes, because I really love the juice. Oh yes, it nearly crippled me for a couple weeks that year though! However... we're still reaping huge benefits, and I'm still enjoying that very same batch of juice.
Labels: Beverages, Canning