If I had to choose only one thing to bottle every year, it would be grape juice. It is so delicious! Store-bought grape juice just isn’t the same. So, here’s some priceless tips that will help you juice your own grapes today!
Juicing grapes is a lot of work. It takes several hours but worth every minute. So, to make this process a little smoother and enjoyable, here’s 11 tips to juicing grapes.
#1: Use the right equipment
You’ll need a juicer to juice your grapes. There are a lot of fancy juicers available online. Or you can find one at a yard sale or classifieds. I found mine at a yard sale and works great. However, if you can find one with handles on the three main sections (see image below), it makes it much easier.
I would also recommend using two juicers at the same time. It makes the process go by much quicker because while you’re waiting for one juicer, you can be filling jars with another.
#2: Make grape juice outside
Juicing grapes takes several hours at a time and your stove is heating up your house the entire time. It gets really hot and messy. And grape juice stains everything.
I use a Camp Chef camping stove that has two burners on it. These stoves burn very hot and it makes the juicing process go much faster than the stove in your kitchen. Then I just take our garden hose and wash everything down. Clean up is a cinch.
#3: Leave stems and all
You don’t have to take the time and effort to remove the stems and clean the grapes really well. Everything is sterilized during the process. It will save you a lot of time.
#4: Heat your lids really well
If your canning lids aren’t heated well enough, they won’t seal on the jars. Grape juice doesn’t have to be water bathed as long as the juice is hot enough to seal the lids to the jars. Heat your lids in water on the stove for at least 10 minutes but don’t boil them. Keep the lids warm as you use them.
#5: Don’t let water boil out
The water in the cooking pan is what produces the steam to juice the grapes. But that water will eventually boil out and burn the bottom cooking pan if you’re not careful. This has happened to me before, luckily I caught it before it caused any permanent damage.
#6: Be careful!
As you are filling each jar with hot juice, be very careful! Sometimes the clamp is difficult to hold open or the steam from the juice can burn your hand. You don’t want to accidentally drop the jar and spill hot juice all over you. Not to mention make a HUGE mess.
#7: Divide and conquer
If you can bribe a friend to come and help you, it makes the entire process go a lot faster. You might have to give up a few jars of your precious grape juice though.
#8: Strain steamed grapes
Once your steamer doesn’t have a steady flow of juice anymore, take the steamed grapes and dump them into a strainer that is placed over a clean bucket. Make sure the strainer has very fine holes. The juice will continue to drip into the bucket. You can even use a potato masher to push more juice out. Allow it to drip for as long as you can 20 – 60 minutes, depending on how patient you are.
#9: Recycle steamed grapes
Don’t throw your steamed grapes into the garbage. Put them in your garden. It’s a great fertilizer.
#10: Water bath lids that don’t seal
Often there will be several lids that don’t seal because the juice in the jars wasn’t hot enough or the lids weren’t heated well enough. At any rate, test each jar after they have cooled completely by lifting the jar by the lid (without the band on it). If the lids comes off, water bath the jar for 5 minutes.
#11: Drink juice within one year
The grape juice isn’t as sweet and tasty if you let it sit on the shelf for too long. It has about a one-year shelf life. But, let’s get real here. We’ve never had a problem drinking our grape juice well before the year mark.
Here’s some other helpful links about making homemade grape juice:
- How to make grape juice without a steam juicer
- Step-by-step grape juicing with a steamer
- How to can grape juice
- Preserving grapes – Utah State Extension
- Canning basics for preserving food
What tips do you have for juicing grapes? Leave your comments below.
Related link: A hunter’s wife: Tips to processing game meat