I went on a glean with the Eugene Area Gleaners recently and came home with about 60 lbs of Concord and Niagara grapes. Grapes are always a pleasure to process as they release so much wonderful concentrated juice. Out of the 60 lbs. I ended up with 10.5 gals. of juice. I’ve had even higher yields with very ripe grapes. I usually mix grape juice 50-50 with seltzer water or mineral water.
I gave the grapes a quick rinse (these are organic by default) and loaded up the fruit baskets while the water pan came up to a boil.
Here is my two pot set up (you can see the juice coming up into the hoses). They look like they are tipping out but they are not. The setup is level, the illusion is from the camera lens. I am using a propane camp stove so I give special attention to the burner settings. Propane burns quite hot and I don’t want to boil my pans dry. All that is needed is a steady boil. As always, I set my timers (on front of stove frame) and check the water every 15-30 mins. I can usually get through a complete processing (45 mins.) without needing to refill the pans.
I’m about half way through processing here. The first runs were a 60-40 mix of Niagara to Concord. This ratio yields a more mellow juice then 100% Concord and a juice with more character then 100% Niagara.
The next run was with frozen strawberries added. I freeze a lot of small berries in season to use throughout the following year. This Niagara/Strawberry blend is luscious. I used 2 quarts of frozen berries per basket and placed them on top of the grapes. The left hand picture shows grapes on top of the strawberries because I decided to add more at the last minute. The right hand picture shows how much the fruit collapses after 30 – 40 mins. There is really no reason to steam past this stage.
Per basket (processing run)-
1 – Rinse grapes and remove any debris. It is not necessary to stem the grapes. Do not let them sit in the water too long.
2 – Add about 12 lbs. of grapes to the fruit basket (mound the grapes up above the top of the basket, the lid will cover them fine).
CAUTION: Do not push down on the grapes to pack them into the basket. You will run the risk of collapsing the convex bottom of the basket, causing the juice to run into the steam funnel.
3 – Add sweetener to taste. I rarely use sweetener for grapes, especially Niagara. However, if the fruit is not fully ripe, 1-2 cups per basket to taste is a good rule.
4 – Fit the basket and lid onto the juicer body. Bring water to a steady boil.
5 – Set timer to 30 mins. as soon as water comes to a boil.
CAUTION: You must monitor the stove heat and water pan to avoid boiling the pan dry. Using a standard household stove top with water at a steady boil (not furious) you should be fine for up to 45 mins. But, set the timer at 30 mins. just to be safe.
6 – When timer goes off after 30 mins.
A – check the juice level. (With grapes it is best to drain off a quart of juice so that juice doesn’t leak into the water pan through the steam funnel)
B – check the water level. It should be no lower than half way down the side of the water pan. Add water as necessary
C – set timer for 15 mins more
7 – When timer goes off after 15 mins.
A – Turn burner off
B – Draw off juice into sanitized jars, attach lids and bands.
C – Water bath your jars as soon as you get 5-7 quarts (avg. water bath capacity).
ATTENTION: USDA recommends processing juice in a hot water bath for 15 mins. per quart. Consult your local Extension Service for more information.
With frozen berries-
1 – When you fill the fruit basket, top off with 2 quarts (more or less to taste) of frozen berries such as strawberry, raspberry, blueberries, cherries, etc.
2 – Add sugar to taste
3 – Process as above
Please let me know how your juicing adventures go and if you have any questions.