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Homemade Grape Juice

  • Here's the procedure: pick grapes and remove from stem. An 18
  • gallon rubbermaid tub holds about 80 pounds of grapes still on the
  • stem, but the weight depends on how tightly you pack them in.
  • Stemming this quantity of grapes takes about 2 hours at first, but
  • some of our stemmers were doing a bit faster than that by the end
  • of the harvest.

After you have the grapes stemmed, rinse them off. We fill the tun with water and scoop them out with a strainer or collander into the crusher. The grape crusher is a key step. It squeezes the grapes between two "rolling pins" and breaks the skins. You can rent or buy one from most winemaking supply shops. You can cook the grapes directly without crushing them, but your juice yield will be reduced by 20-40%. After you've got the grapes crushed, you put them on to cook in big pots. Add a cup of water for every gallon of grapes. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until you can't really identify discrete grape pulps and until the seeds have fallen out. This takes 30-50 minutes depending on the heat source and the amount of crushed grapes in the pot. Once the grapes are cooked to the proper stage, ladle them out into an 8" wire screen strainer over a big, clean bucket ot pot. (You can use a cheesecloth jelly bag, but it is much slower.) If you really want pulp-free juice, do the initial straining in the screen mesh and put the juice through a jelly-bag or coffee filter as an additional step. It's much faster. I have 4-6 strainers filled with grapes at once in full production mode. After straining the juice, you can put 13 quarts of juice in a big pot with 10 lbs of sugar and bring to a boil for a double batch of 14 quarts. A single batch (7 quarts) would be 6.5 quarts of juice and 5 lbs of sugar. Once boiling, put the juice into the hot, sterilized quart jars and BWB for 15-20 minutes. This process yields a concentrated juice that's too strong for direct consumption. We dilute each quart with two quarts of water for drinking. If you have a food mill, the pulp can be separated from the seeds and skins after the juice is drained to make grape butter or fruit leather. 80 lbs of grapes (18 gallon bin before stemming) yields roughly: 30 quarts of juice concentrate 3 gallons strained pulp from food mill 3 gallons seeds and skins mixture (livestock love this stuff)

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