The time came to make grape juice again. It’s one of the things we look forward to, not just because we bottle it in our super-awesome vintage pop bottles, but mostly because it’s the only juice our son wants to drink. He’s in kindergarten now, and usually by his age, anything that comes in a package starts to seem cooler. Instead, he’s possessive about the grape juice. It’s “his juice”. So we’ll go with that.
I picked up two bushels of white Niagara (variety name) grapes in the Niagara region, and was considering dropping by a house that let us glean their backyard Concord grapes last year, when I spotted a guy named Jimmy. He was picking grapes in a vineyard that looked like it was full of Concords. I was right, and he sold me a bushel for $15 and said if I wanted to pick my own, it’d cost me $10 for another bushel. That sounded good, and the fact he owns the same VW Westfalia camper van as me sealed the deal.
This year’s batch of juice was exciting because we got to try out our own new Mehu-Liisa steam juicer and our new (old) bottle capper we scored at the local antique market for $3.
By the time we were through the first of three bushels, we gave my mom a call with a brilliant idea. We picked up her juicer anyways and ran them both. It made the process so much quicker.
The other great part is the twenty or so vintage bottles I picked up at an old barn sale. I was excited to put them back into use, even though I cracked a few.
One of the things you need, is to have the bottles near the temperature of the juice or they’ll break while filling. For my first couple batches, I had the bottles at 250ºF in the oven and when I tried to fill them, they either broke or boiled the juice over. I quickly fixed this by sterilizing them at 250ºF for 30 minutes before dropping the temperature down to 215ºF for filling.
People ask us how we know they’re sealed for sure when we use crown caps. We don’t know for sure, but when I open a bottle, I listen for the hiss. If I don’t hear it, I don’t drink it.
Here’s to another year of good drinking!
Click here to see our post on our 2011 batch.