A brief DIY grape juice and grape jelly from an amateur home-preserver, using a juice steamer.
To read about my failures/successes with this, read my personal blog here.
--Quart sized mason jars
STEP 1: I used Concord grapes from my backyard.
STEP 2: Cut them directly off the vine. The kids loved helping me with this. It only took about an hour to cut at least 15 pounds of grapes.
TIPS: They can be stored in a cool place, covered, for a few days before using them. But don't let them sit too long or they'll ferment or start to shrivel or split. I kept them in a cooler outside.
A friend suggested to me that it's better to wait until after the first frost to pick them because apparently they taste better.
STEP 3: Rinse the grapes. Pick out the bad ones (those that are shriveled, wet, or sticky).
STEP 4: Weigh out about 4 pounds of grapes. Yields about 6 cups of juice.
STEP 5: Place in the steamer basket. Make sure you plug the tube with the stopper clip.
(pictured: not the steamer I used but very close model). They have 3 compartments. The bottom unit that you fill with water that sits directly on the stove unit. Then the juice catcher compartment with a tube connected to it. Then the steam basket where you place the grapes. Then it's topped with a lid.
Time-saving TIP: You do NOT have to pull each grape off the vine individually. I just put the whole grape vine in, stem and all. It does not go through the holes into the juice. You could fit about a pound more of grapes in the steamer basket if you de-vine them but I was too lazy to cut them all off. Some people think it affects the taste of the juice, that's up to you to decide.
STEP 6: Set stove to high heat. Steam the grapes for about 1 hour, or until they are completely mooshed and shriveled and depleted of juice. Discard what remains or throw in your compost pile.
TIP: Be sure to not let the water in the bottom pot boil off completely. Re-fill as needed.
STEP 7: Place the tube into a sterilized mason jar for long term-storage. OR a plastic pitcher or other clean container (for temporary storage only). Release the tube clip and let juice drain into container. Can as usual. I skipped this step to continue on to make jelly.
TIP: Because it was 1 am by the time I finished two batches of juice (about 12 cups of juice total) I waited until the next day to make the jelly.
STEP 8: You can freeze the juice in very clean quart sized milk/juice jugs for about 6 months.
How to make jelly:
--Homemade or store purchased and prepared juice
--8 half-pint sized mason jars
--8 brand new lids and rings
--pectin, liquid or powdered
I apologize for the lack of photos. It was my first time canning and I did not want to stop and take photos after each step.
1. Follow the instructions on the pectin box.
2. I sterilized my jars in boiling water. I sterilized the lids in almost boiling water. The rings don't need to be sterilized.
TIP: One way to know jelly is ready to go into jars is that it coats a spoon nicely while stirring.
3. Be sure not to disturb the finished jars, once sterilized and sealed, for at least 24 hours. Wait and wait with excitement to check if they are sealed.
4. You're done! Enjoy!
Here were some very helpful websites that I referenced often in doing research before I began the whole process.