No Sugar Added Concord Grape Juice
Moving to our acreage earlier this spring has been nothing but a blessing. Last month, we were blessed with beautiful big plump concord grapes compliments of the three vines out back. So, when life gives you grapes, and I mean 6 total buckets of them, you get creative with things you’ve never made before like a no sugar added concord grape juice!
I have to confess, I’ve never tried a fresh from the vine grape nor have I ever tried a concord grape. The only type I’d ever had prior to this is the standard grocery store variety. The flavor of fresh concord grapes is simply beyond compare. I never realized that the Jolly Rancher grape flavor was actually a mimic of the real natural concord grape flavor. I thought that was an exaggeration of the grocery store grapes flavor. Totally wrong on that one! The only difficulty with eating concord grapes straight from the vine is that they have seeds so it’s a little challenging but well worth it. On the other hand, there is no way we can eat that many buckets of grapes fresh before they spoil so it was on to step one of grape preservation… make homemade concord grape juice!! Steps 2 and 3 involve converting the juice concentrate into jam and experimenting with making an easy fermented table wine. Yippee!!
Making a no sugar added concord grape juice is WAY easy. Yes, it’s a few steps to get there but it couldn’t be simpler. The only ingredient is grapes! Then add water if you wish it to be a little thinner consistency for your juice guzzling needs. First you’ll need to de-stem the grapes and give them a good rinse in a strainer. Next, you put the grapes in a stockpot and simmer for about 15 minutes mashing them every few minutes to loosen the skins and mash them so the juice is released. The insides of grapes are actually green so simmering with the skins gives the juice a more intensely grape flavor as well as turns the juice its trademark purple color. After the mash has simmered, I strain it through a food mill on the smallest setting to separate the skins and seeds from the juice. It’ll be fairly syrupy and thick at this point which is perfect for making jam. If you want to continue making into juice or wine, I recommend straining another time through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Once straining is done, freeze it in easy to use portions or just drink it fresh! I like mine diluted with a little water in a 2:1 ratio of juice to water.
This is the perfect addition to smoothies too. So there you have it… healthy no sugar added concord grape juice perfection!
- Concord grapes - whatever amount you have
- Water to dilute the concentrate into juice
- Remove grapes from the stems and place in a strainer. Compost any grapes that have insect holes or other oddities you don't wish to have in your juice.
- Rinse grapes for a minute or two to wash off any dirt.
- Place grapes in a large stockpot (do not add water).
- Turn burner on medium and mash with a potato masher every few minutes. The skins will burst and then the juice will gradually be released as the grapes are mashed.
- Continue simmering for about 15 minutes until grapes are totally mashed and mushy.
- Let cool and then strain through a food mill or sieve. It will still be a bit thick after this so I usually do a second strain through a finer mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
- Now you have concentrate! Either freeze at this point, make jam or wine or continue with making juice.
- To make grape juice, you'll most likely want to add a little water so it's less syrupy. My favorite ratio is 2 parts grape juice concentrate mixed with 1 part water. Add as much or as little water as you like according to your taste.