At the end of last week I found a great deal on boxes of wine grapes. There were two kinds, Concord and a yellow grape that another shopper told me were called Niagara. I tasted one of the Niagara grapes, and as I did, the memory of being a kid eating grapes in my grandparents’ backyard suddenly flooded over me. These were the grapes they grew, something that I had entirely forgotten about. They were so good!
The grapes were super cheap because they were so ripe – the Concord grapes had some clusters that had mold on them and since I wasn’t interested in having to pick through them, I decided to get 2 boxes of Niagaras instead (they looked very ripe but in basically good shape). The price was $7.50 for two boxes, and each box had about 18 pounds in it, so .21 lb.
They made for great eating and we enjoyed the grapes for our picnic right after our shopping, but we decided to reserve some of them to make some homemade grape juice, something we’ve never tried. When I got home I learned from reading online that it takes about 20 lb of grapes to make 7 quarts of juice – if I’d had any idea of that when buying the grapes, I would have bought a lot more. We used about a third of a box, about 6 lb. of grapes, which made enough to fill a 64 oz jar plus a couple of cups more, about ten cups in all. So my estimate on cost is that it was $1.25 for ten cups; when I get it on sale, I pay $3 for 8 cups. That means that making my own grape juice cost me less than 1/3 of the price I can get it on sale.
Here’s how you make grape juice – this is soooo simple! First you wash the grapes, then blend them slightly in a food processor or blender to break open the skin (yes, this means with the seeds and skins, but make sure all the stems are off, because it will make the juice bitter). Put all of them in a pot with enough water to cover them, and cover the pot. Then heat it until boiling. When it reaches boiling, turn it down to medium low and let it simmer for about fifteen minutes. Then line a strainer with cheesecloth or muslin, and set it on top of a cleanpot where the juice can drain in. Pour the grape mix through the strainer, and bottle the strained juice. If you make a large amount, you can can fruit juice by water bathing it.
This didn’t look or taste like the grape juice in the store; it was much better! It was so amazingly good! Everyone loved it and we all are sorry we won’t have any more. When I encountered the sale, I didn’t want to buy lots of grapes (not that 36 lb is a small amount) that needed to be dealt with immediately, since I didn’t know how much time would be involved and was concerned that it would be a big project that would compromise the commitment I’ve made to myself to be ready for Shabbos by Friday afternoon. (I already had a lot of unpacking for Thursday afternoon to do from my monthly shopping which was putting me on a tight schedule.) Now that I know what’s involved, I won’t hesitate to buy up a bunch more if an incredible sale comes my way again!