Michigan Concords – Another Casualty of Old Man Winter

I have been so busy with other things lately, that canning anything hasn’t made it onto my to do list, let alone crossed my mind. Last weekend, however, as some of my major projects have been winding down, I began wondering if Concord grapes were ready for picking yet.

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Friday morning I called the only farm within 50 miles for grape picking and found out grape season was already closed. WHAT! How could that be? Concords don’t usually even ripen until the beginning of October here in Michigan, how could the season already be done?

Well, apparently the harsh Michigan weather we endured last winter took its toll on the grape crops and the season was very short and not very plentiful. Discouraged, I began to look for farms that were further out, but still feasible. There were none.

My only other option was to start calling farmer’s markets and see if anyone had grapes I could buy. Monday morning I called my favorite farm, Verellen Farms, and found out they had Michigan Concords. I drove there immediately, and by 9 a.m. was back home with 3 pecks of Concords for processing.

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For two days now I’ve been working on grape juices, jams, spreads, and syrup. Check out Simply Grateful Canning for my posts on Concord Grape Juice Revisited, Updated, & Expanded – Cran Grape JuiceCran-Grape Syrup & Spread, and Cran-Grape Jam – Not Traditional.

I’ve got about a peck left and with that I think I might try an old-fashioned recipe for grape juice to compare it with the easy recipe I’ve done for two years now.

Michigan weather can be brutal, especially when it comes to fruit trees. Thankfully this year I was still able to get some Concords, enough to stock the pantry for a good year or more, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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SUCCESS! Concord Grape Juice Update

Back in October I posted a recipe for Easy Concord Grape Juice.  This was the first time I had made this recipe and would not have the results for a few months.

This morning I decided it had been long enough.  Looking at those jars full of tantalizing purple liquid with grapes floating up on top was just too much, I had to crack one open and see what it had become.

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Breaking the seal on the lid, I could immediately smell the sweet aroma of concord grapes.  It smelled just like the Welch’s grape juice concentrate I’ve bought in the freezer section at the grocery store.

With a strainer over a small juice glass, I poured a small amount of juice out of the quart bottle.  The color was not as dark as the store-bought, but the smell was certainly as strong.

Lifting the glass to my lips, I slowly took a sip and WOW!  It’s definitely grape juice.

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical.  I really didn’t think that 1 cup of grapes among all that water and sugar would have a chance of becoming the dominant flavor, but it was.

Admittedly, I did not take a second sip of the juice as it was.  It was on the sweeter side, so I added an ice-cube and about as much water as there was juice in the glass.  Perfect.

So, when I do this again next year I plan on using either less sugar and then I’d be able to drink the juice straight from the bottle (after strained) or adding more grapes and possibly a little less sugar and then calling it a concentrate.  I’m not sure, but this is definitely a keeper, it just needs a bit of tweaking.

I love it when a new recipe turns out on the first try.  Success to me is anything that doesn’t need to be thrown away. Having to make changes to the recipe is not a big deal, in fact that’s all part of the fun of cooking, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Easy Concord Grape Juice

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Back a month or so ago while I was working with some concord grapes, I decided to give a recipe a try for what promised to be an easy concord grape juice.  I have juiced grapes in the past by steaming them or by cooking them to extract as much juice as possible, and although not the most difficult job in the world, it can be somewhat time-consuming.  This new recipe intrigued me because there was no fuss and very little prep involved — something I really needed during a busy canning period.

So here it is:

Easy Concord Grape Juice

  • 1 Cup Concord Grapes stemmed and washed
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • Hot Water

That’s all the ingredients you will need for each quart jar of juice.

Instructions:

To each hot quart jar add 1 cup of grapes, 1 cup of sugar, and then fill jar to top, leaving 1/4 inch head space with hot water.  Cap and process in water bath for 25 minutes.  Put on pantry shelf and let sit for 2 to 3 months.

That’s it!  Easy enough, don’t you think.

Well, I made seven quarts of juice using this recipe and have let them sit on the shelf in the pantry for the past month.  In another month or two I will crack open my first jar and see how they’ve turned out.

Has anyone ever tried making grape juice this way?

I’m not sure if this is going to turn out, but regardless if it’s the best grape juice I’ve every tasted or not, I’m sure that I can use it for something.  If nothing else, I can use it in place of water in some of my lemonade concentrates.  Nothing ever goes to waste around here.

It is so much fun to try something new every once in a while, especially when it is quick and easy, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.