Friday, September 30, 2011

Wild Grape Juice

On Monday I took all the grapes I had picked the day before and washed them in this big tub.
I skimmed off the leaves and dead, dried up grapes that floated to the surface of the water.

In another container, a 5 gallon food grade plastic pail, I put in about a dozen clusters of grapes at a time. I crushed the grapes with my grandmother's sauerkraut stomper, covered with a plastic bag so it wouldn't get too stained.

When enough juice was released from the grapes I strained them through a colander into the biggest pot I have. I highly recommend doing this part outside and wearing clothes that you don't mind getting stained, because this is messy work. I also wore rubber gloves whenever I had to handle the crushed grapes so that I wouldn't absorb any of the tartrate crystals through my skin, which can be very painful. The seeds, stems, skins and pulp leftover, went directly into the compost.
When the pot was full, I brought it in and strained the juice through my reusable coffee filter and a jelly bag. I repeated this process until the pot was empty.

The containers of juice sat in the fridge for a couple of days to allow the tartrates to settle out to the bottom. You can see the 2 or 3 inches of tartrate sludge in the jar on the left, and about an inch in the one on the right.

At this stage I carefully poured off the tartrate free juice into smaller bottles.

I ended up with about a gallon of drinkable juice and four cups of tartrate sludge that got composted. The juice is drinkable at this point, but it is very strong and quite tart. Diluting it with water or other fruit juices, however, makes for a very refreshing beverage. If you have a sweet tooth you definitely want to add a sweetener. You can also take the juice and make grape jelly or wild grape wine.

I have way more juice then I will go through in the next little while so I put most of this into the freezer to enjoy at a later date. I think some of the apple cider I pressed a few weeks ago with a hit of wild grape juice, sometime in the middle of January, will be a welcome treat!

No comments: