Grape Drink – What Is Juice?
Grape juice. It seems simple enough. We know what grapes are; we know what juice is – shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out. But have you actually made the stuff? This is a reoccurring question in my arsenal. When you make something for the first time, something you’ve consumed on countless occasions, secrets are unearthed and mysteries in the far reaches of the galaxy begin to unravel. All of a sudden the sky opens and food makes more sense.
Water, sugar, purple: Even Welch’s 100% Grape Juice isn’t actually 100% grape juice … the bastards. If you decide to make your own, your grape juice should always be 100% juice. When juicing grapes there are a few different methods one could take. The modern-day, kale-munching, tea-drinking crystal-hugger may scoff at my method but they’ll thank me when the power runs out and their cold-pressed juice machine goes kaput.
I use steam power! I first learned about steam juicers from a canning demo performed by a sheep farmer. They’re brilliant! Like any good device, they have multiple functions including tincture-making and alcohol distillation but if you need to make some jelly, boy are you in business. I especially enjoy them because they make highly fermentable things, like grapes, calm and stable when you need them to be. The steam gently breaks apart cell walls and releases juicy goodness. Now, if you’re like me and lent out your steam juicer to a friend during this demonstration, then I have good news: You have options. I used a stainless steel pasta cooker with one of those built-in strainers. You can also use a regular stainless steel pot … but that’s messy.
In a world where 100% grape juice hardly has any grapes in it, and grape soda tastes like Flintstone Vitamins, there’s hope! Find the fruit. Take it in your hands; squish it. Love it. Turn it into Juice. Save it. Share it.
- Good, natural grapes – ideally Concord, indubitably organic.
- Stainless steel stock pot – preferably with a basket for cooking pasta in (ideally a steam juicer, though).
- Potato masher, wooden spoon and/or a rubber spatula.
- Large jar/jug/container for storing the juice while it settles.
- De-stem, pick through & wash your happy little grapes. *This takes time.*
- Place a heavy-bottomed pot, with an inch or so of filtered water in it, on the stove. Crank that flame up to medium. Get a good simmer/steam going.
Fill the pasta strainer with your clean, happy little grapes. Insert the filled strainer back in the pot and cover. Wait for the whole shebang to get warm and up to temperature. Feel free to stir them once or twice to make sure the heat is evenly distributed.
When you start to notice that the grapes are plump and sweaty with heat, SMASH THEM! Take your wooden spoon (ideally a potato-masher) and get in there, with a gentle firmness. Don’t be mean.
- The juice will fall to the bottom of the pot, while the fruit stays in the basket.
- If you feel that the steam is waning add more water, in small amounts.
- Depending on how many grapes you have, repeat until you have no more grapes. I’m not sure how purists would feel, but I just add fresh grapes to the spent grapes, mix them around, cover them and let the new batch get hot again.
When all the grapes are spent and you can see juice collecting, kill the heat. Go ahead and continue mixing and smashing if you’d like, it’s good for your fidgety friends.
Pour the remaining juice through a strainer and into a container.
Pour the settled juice into its final resting place, being careful to not pour out any more sediment than you’re comfortable with.
At this point you can now:
- Can the juice. This way you have a shelf-stable product in your bunker after the zombies attack.
- Put in freezable containers and store in your freezer. “A full freezer is a happy freezer.”
- Keep the juice in fun containers your fridge ‘cause, duh, it’s the 21st century.
Why I canned the juice: 1) It’s a very easy thing to process if you have some tools and know-how. 2) I’m afraid of zombies. 3) It holds up beautifully in the jar and isn’t exposed to that nasty oxygen stuff. You should can it, too. Directions can be found here, but that’s a different story for a different time.
Suggested Uses: a) Serve chilled and over ice. b) Mix with bubbly water for real grape soda. *Suck-it, Fanta.* c) Use to make grape jelly #peanutbutterjellytime d) Mix with vodka! Then write a story about how to make grape juice.