Monday, February 14, 2011

Tip of the Week: How to Can Grape Juice Part 3/ Canning Whole Grapes

Finally my last post about canning grape juice/ grapes!

First off I should mention something that I haven't through all this. If you can get your hands on an electric juicer that may be your best option for getting grape juice without a fuss. I don't know much about them as I've never had or used one. Are they horrible to try to clean? Would they be impractical when doing as many grapes as I did? Sadly I don't know the answers to those questions. It's worth looking into though if you have one or know someone who does. 

Now I want to mention that if you don't plan on using the grape pulp for anything, you can at least get more juice out of all the leftover grape gunk if you are patient. Just stick all that grape gunk in some kind of colander like so:

Let it drain overnight and you'll find you've got a bunch more juice (depending on how much you are draining.)

Now I want to talk about what I have done with all the grape goop or pulp after getting all the juice out. If you have seedless grapes you can just blend all that grape pulp up in the blender. If there are seeds then about the only thing you can do is put it through a food strainer of some sort. I have an old Victorio strainer like this:

 Mine is awesome because it has a motor on it (thanks to my Dad!) but otherwise it's just a regular old food strainer. You DO need to have the special grape spiral that goes in it. The grape one is just shorter so where it ends the opening is bigger and the seeds can pass through. I still managed to jam it a few times with seeds and it was a huge mess to take it apart and un-jam it. I finally got the hang of how fast to run the stuff through, etc.
 Above is my huge (from a restaurant supply store) bowl full of grape pulp. Yummy!
 After getting all my grape gunk strained I had a massive amount of grape pulp. I think I ended up with nearly 20 quarts of the stuff! For me it was TOTALLY worth taking the time to stem the grapes to end up with all of that. So, what on earth do you DO with it?

Well, for starters, make grape JAM!
 We've really liked this a lot more than grape jelly actually. It's so much easier to spread on a piece of toast.
I just looked at the instructions on a box of pectin for other types of jam and guessed and it turned out just fine. Sorry I can't tell you more than that, but if you are familiar with making jam it's really not too hard.

As for the rest of my pulp, I wasn't able to use it immediately, so I just canned it to save for other things. Notice how little juice has separated from the pulp in the jars there in the middle? I REALLY did a good job of getting every last ounce of juice off.
I have to admit I "cheated" and canned it in 1/2 gallon jars. I should probably say again that 1/2 gallon jars are only approved for canning juice such as apple and grape juice. I cheated because I knew that the grape stuff would be really high acid and it wasn't very thick and I planned to use it within a month. I can't know what results you'd get so don't say I didn't warn you. I knew I would just be opening the jars in a few weeks and I didn't want to use up a bunch of canning lids and jars on them, so I got twice as much in a jar by using the 1/2 gallon ones.

The other thing I used it for a few weeks later was this:
Fruit leather! Soooo yummy. I waited until I had lots of applesauce to go with it and then made lots of "grapple leather." When I did applesauce I made a bunch and didn't can it, but instead put it straight into fruit leather. I have a huge stash of this "grapple leather" now and it's really good. Adding grape into fruit leather gives it a nice color. Many people don't want to eat a brownish looking leather (from things like apples, pears, peaches, etc.) That reddish, purple color is quite appetizing.

Other ideas for what to do with it would be to freeze it in cubes and use it for smoothies. Or, make some kind of thick grape syrup for pancakes and such. Grape jello anyone? Grape yogurt? Ooh, I hadn't thought of that before. I'll have to try it out on my kids soon and see what they think. Mmmmmm.....

Now, one last thing to bring up here is canning WHOLE grapes. Check out THIS site for a simple explanation of how to do that. That's your official guideline. There's also a way of canning grape juice that involves putting just a few whole grapes in the jar along with a little sugar and a bunch of water. You process it and when you open the jar you have juice that doesn't need to be reconstituted.

Canning whole grapes seems a little odd to me, but if you have grapes coming out your ears and don't have the time to do anything with them some year it's very simple to toss them in a jar and can 'em. They will take up TONS more room that way though. As for canning a few grapes in a jar to make juice, again, it seems like a good idea if you are really limited on time, or have no way of juicing the grapes besides the long messy tedious route. Or if you are only doing a few and don't want to make a big old mess of your kitchen just to get the juice out of a few grapes.

I never can the whole grapes because I've had the time, etc. to do otherwise and because it's not practical for three reasons:
1-The grapes take up much more room that way.
2-It's hard to predict how many grapes and how much water need to go in the jar for the juice to taste right.
3-Why can WATER? This last one really gets me. I'm not going to put a cup of grapes in a jar and fill it with WATER! I'd much rather can straight grape juice that's concentrated and then add water when I open it. Canning lids are an expense and I don't want to waste them on jars mostly full of water.

Well, I'm finally out of things to say about grapes. Aren't you relieved? The only other thing I might mention is that your house may be a disaster for a few days and the pile of dishes can be unbelievable:
Yup, that's my pile of clean pots and pans after doing all that grape juice and pulp and jam. Seriously. Can you see my poor baby's head peeking out from behind the pot at the back? The poor kid was dwarfed by the massive pile 'o dishes. It was worth it to me though. Good luck with any grapes you may get your hands on!

6 comments:

  1. I had someone comment that they loved canned grapes and the juice that comes off of them. (I lost the comment.) I forgot to say specifically that I'm mainly talking about grapes with seeds here which really aren't that great to eat. I for one would hate sitting there spitting out all the seeds. Blech. But yes, if you have some yummy seedless grapes and you don't mind the mushy texture once they're canned, by all means can them and enjoy the juice off of them too!

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  2. You can can them whole to make concentrate by filling the jar up with grapes, adding some sugar, and just the water needed. It's just the concentrated version of the 1-cup juice. Better use of space, I agree.

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  3. Okay, I found the link about the concentrate. They actually put in 2 cups grapes, but I think filling it up would make it more concentrated and take half the jars. http://www.thyhandhathprovided.com/2008/08/concord-grapes-part-2.html

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  4. Thanks for sharing. I was wondering if you used the berry strainer attachment or the larger holed pumpkin strainer with your grape spiral.

    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure I just used the one with regular sized holes- not the tiny holed berry screen. Either one would be fine though because the grape seeds can't fit through either one.

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