Homemade Grape Juice

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Late September and early October is Concord Grape season in California’s central valley. Every time I walk under our grape arbor in this season, just the smell of those ripe grapes conjures up memories of childhood—wolfing down a PB & J, slurping a rapidly melting frozen grape juice bar (mom was way more into those than neon popsicles), or greedily munching on a grape flavored jelly bean, lifesaver, or any of those turn-your-mouth-purple candies that we loved.

We used to make Grape juice from Welch’s frozen concentrate; sometimes the lid didn’t come off so easily and splat there went a purple goopy mess all over our shirts.

Grape Juice

If you have never had fresh, homemade grape juice, I assure you, you are missing out; it’s nothing like anything you can buy in a store. It’s more like nectar than store bought juice, thick and smooth.

We like to dilute ours a bit with sparkling water. Over the years we’ve learned that our homemade grape juice doesn’t really freeze well; it just doesn’t taste nearly as special upon defrosting. So when it’s in season, we drink it up.

This recipe uses Concord grapes which, according to my friends in Concord, Mass, still grow wild around those parts. I’m pretty sure you could use this grape juice recipe with any kind of sweet grape you like.

Homemade Grape Juice Recipe

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Ingredients

Equipment needed

  • A colander for rinsing the grapes
  • 1 large, 12-quart pot
  • 1 large 6 or 8-quart pot
  • A very large fine mesh sieve, or cheesecloth

Method

1. Pick the grapes. Get a large basket, wear long sleaves and a hat, bring clippers, and fill up the basket with grape bunches. Keep in mind that a pound of grapes will yield a little less than a cup of juice.

rinse grape clusters de-stem grapes

2. Rinse and de-stem the grapes. Put grapes in a basin filled with water. Then rinse the individual grapes, picking them away from the stem, collecting the grapes in a large bowl, and discarding the green unripe and old shriveled grapes.

place grapes in large pot mash grapes with potato masher

3. Mash the grapes. With a potato masher, mash away at the grapes so the juice begins to flow. If you have picked a lot of grapes, you may need to work in batches. We have found it easiest to mash about 4 lbs of grapes at a time.

bring grapes to a simmer
4. Cook the grapes. Put the mashed grapes into a large stockpot. Slowly heat the grapes and juice to a simmer on medium heat and then simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the grapes don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Halfway through cooking mash some more, breaking up as many of the remaining grapes as possible.

5. Prepare sieve or cheesecloth. Get another large pot, place a large fine mesh sieve over it. Alternatively you can cover it with two layers of cheesecloth, secure with a rubber band. Make sure pot is sitting on a plate to catch any juice that may run over.

place cooked grapes in fine mesh sieve let grapes drain of juice for several hours

6. Strain grape mixture. Ladle grape mixture over fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to strain. Let sit for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator to strain completely.

7. Finishing. Remove sieve or cheesecloth.* Note that sediment will have formed on the bottom of the container. Rinse out the sieve or cheesecloth and strain the juice again, to filter out some of the sediment. Pour or ladle juice into containers. Enjoy your juice!

* Note that the grape mash can be composted.

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Links:

Have green unripe grapes? Make verjuice (aka verjus)! Hank Shaw shows us how in How to Make Verjuice

Grape Juice

Showing 4 of 159 Comments

  • Joe G

    I made grape juice using 3 different methods. Fist I used the potatoe masher and cheese cloth method. The second method used a fruit mill with conical strainer that fit on a mixer. The third method used a steam juicer. The steam method was the only one that didn’t result in sediment. It also didn’t need to be strained through cheese cloth. My only complaint is an odd smell noted when drinking. My grapes were primarily Reliant and some Concord grapes. Any suggestions? I put up 5 gallons using a steam bath canner.

  • carol Griffiths

    I saw a programme last week you went to a chaps place made grape juice he said not to wash the grapes as the bloom held the yeast you had you feet in the bucket left for HOW MANY DAYS didn’t boil just drained and bottled then you too it to market is that all I do

  • Nur

    Can i make white grape juice using this method?

  • Rachel

    I used this recipe to make some grape juice with some grapes we found on my property. Grapes were kind of sour when eaten raw, but sweet juice after I followed this recipe. Now my husband wants to make a whole bunch to last us the year. I’ve never pressure canned (or water bath??), but I do own a vacuum sealer and jar attachments. If I cook the grapes, would it be safe to dry can, and how long would it last?

  • Sherrie Juba

    I used this recipe and the juice turned out great. My grapes are purple but sour because I live on the prairies I need to pick the grapes before freezing, they are small and sour. I made the juice as per the recipe and added agave syrup, wanting s lower calorie drink packed with goodness and low calorie. I keep it in the fridge and add it to some carbonated water. It makes a nice natural diet juice

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