Making Grape Juice for Concord Grape Jelly

Concord grapes picked fresh from the vines.
We seem to have a peak season going on for concord grapes!  My hubby came home early last night and we headed over to the west side of Evansville to the home of Bill and June Shirley as they offered to share their bumper crop of concord grapes with us.  Off we went with baskets and clippers in hand only to find they had most of the work already done and good 20 pounds of grapes were waiting for us!

We sat as the evening sun went down and visited awhile before heading back.   It was a very nice evening.  Thanks to the Shirley's we will have grape jelly to share this year.

You will need Concord Grapes,  colander,  pan for washing,  slotted spoon,  large heavy bottomed kettle with lid,  potato masher, cheese cloth, and twine.

Note:  About 3 1/2 pounds of grapes will yield 4 cups of juice.  (Ball Blue Book)

The first thing necessary is to pick all of the grapes from the stems and debris and give them a good rinse in cool clean water.  I don't leave them to soak, just a good swish and then out.  I did two  batches as I did not want to over fill my kettles and have a boil over.

Mashing is easily done in batches with a potato masher.
As soon as I picked over and rinsed about 4-5 cups of grapes I added them to a large heavy bottomed kettle and mashed them.  Doing them in batches then mashing is much easier then doing them all at once and then trying to get them mashed.  Just dump each new batch on top and give them a bit of elbow grease with your potato masher and you will make quick work of it.

Cover the pan and simmer the grapes until the fruit is soft.  Gather several layers of clean cheese cloth and lay them across a large bowl.  Carefully pour the fruit and juice into the cheese cloth lined bowl.

I have hung 2 cheese cloth bags of cooked grapes to drain into bowls.
Gather up the excess and the corners and tie the cheese cloth with butchers twine.  Leave enough length in the string to be able to suspend it above the bowl and hang for several hours.  I start with probably 20" then fold it in half and double knot the ends together.  Just loop the looped end around the gathered corners of the cheese cloth and pull the knotted end through the loop and shown in the picture.  The weight will pull and hold the bag taught.  If you need to shorten the knotted end for the height to your bowl just knot it again to make it shorter and loop it over your knob.

I hang the bags by the handles of my upper kitchen cabinets over large bowls.  My house is quite cool with our air conditioning and I leave it 12-24 hours.

The "Ball Blue Book"  advises that the juice may be used fresh, canned, or frozen for later use.  To prevent formation of tartrate crystals in grape jelly, the juice should stand  in a cool place for 12 to 24 hours.  Strain again through damp cheese cloth to remove any crystals that may have formed.

Tomorrow I shall perhaps make grape jelly!  Or if not I will store the precious juice in Mason Jars in the refrigerator or the freezer.


Diane said...

What a fab post! My daughter has been after me to make some grape juice for her- and thanks to your great post I can! TY Please post if you make the jelly! I am comfortable with jams now, but haven't tried a jelly yet- plus I cannot use any pectin(allergies) so I know it will be trial and error, your posts are always helpful so hoping if you do post about the jelly, I will be ready to take a stab at it!

Diane Cosby said...

Thank you SO MUCH. You just made probably my month! Such a nice note. I sometimes get a bit discouraged and think of stopping. It is wonderful and inspiring to hear that at least a few of my posts are looked upon as being very helpful. I appreciate your note as well as all of the notes I get. I will post my grape jelly making saga. I think I have enough juice for several batches so I will get busy yet this morning. Thanks again. Diane

Diane said...

I have my grapes straining!! We cannot wait!! Thank you again! Jelly tomorrow :-)

Diane Cosby said...

Terrific Diane! I sure hope it all goes well for you!

My very best hopes are with you as you make your grape jelly.