Living so close to Napa Valley, we thought it would be fun to have our own ‘crush’ with our ‘Roger’s Red’ native grapevine.
I originally planted this vine for its ornamental value, as it has incredible red fall foliage. The grapes themselves have tons of little seeds, which makes them a pain to eat, but since it’s such a beautiful vine I didn’t really care.
One Saturday morning, my daughter woke up and decided she really wanted to make grape juice with the bounty of grapes she could see dangling from our arbor.
I always seize the moment with any activity that my 15-year old wants to do with me as they seem to be getting fewer each year. So, I grabbed my husband and we dove right in.
It was actually a much easier project than I thought it would be. I was prepared for a long and messy day, with my family losing interest and abandoning me after 15 minutes. But they hung in there until the very end, thoroughly enjoying every minute of it!
Here’s our simple step-by-step process, resulting in some of the best grape juice I’ve ever tasted!
Obviously, the first step is to pick your grapes!
Even though our one vine gave us all of the grapes pictured here, believe it or not, we left just as many on the vine for the robins and mockingbirds to finish off for us.
The next step is to de-stem the grapes.
We removed all the little stems to avoid the juice becoming woody-tasting, or tannic, once they were crushed.
This is where it got a bit tedious, but my daughter hung in there for the 20 minutes or so that it took.
After rinsing the grapes, it was time for one of the most critical steps of this process. WASHING FEET!
The whole concept of using feet to crush the grapes for the juice I would soon be drinking grossed me out, so I made sure hers were squeaky clean.
After 15 minutes of doing the Lucille Ball-stomp, the next step was to separate the juice from the skins and seeds.
We used a colander with really small holes in it to filter out as many solids as we could.
We also found it helpful to use our pastry blender to mash and press down the skins, allowing even more juice to flow.
Next, we took the juice into the house to drain it through a piece of cheesecloth, which removed the smallest particles that the colander didn’t strain.
After a quick boil on the stove to gently pasteurize the juice, we ended up with three large pitchers of very strong, but very tasty grape juice!
We found it particularly delicious mixed with 7-Up or Seltzer water. The juice we didn’t drink, we simply poured into large ice-cube trays to use in our smoothies.
I love this! Thank you! I have a Roger’s Red grapevine in my backyard and will make juice in a few months. I can’t wait!
I’m so glad to hear this – I hope yours tastes as good as our did! 🙂
Oh, this looks like such fun! My dad did this with us when we were kids – I’d love to do it with my daughter now. I’m sure she’d love it!
I’m glad it brought back some good memories for you! If you want to make it even easier, then buy some ‘seed-less’ grapes for your daughter…cuts out about 30 minutes of tedious work!
That is what I call “toe lick’n good”. The Colonial and “I Love Lucy” would be very proud. Would love to see you do an episode on Vitavitavegimin in-the-garden. Great blog and just my level of fun-in-the-garden. I wish there was a way to stomp my weeds in to juicy goodness! Keep up the good work.
Let me know how the weed juice turns out….wait…isn’t that what the grass shooters at Jamba Juice are?? (They taste like it, at least….)
Wow so thats how its done, glad to see this, my cartons of grape juice will take on a whole new appearance having read your post Rebecca. Quite a crushing feat uggghhh 🙂
What a great idea! Is the juice good as is, or does it need some sugar to temper it? I make spritzers all the time with pomegranate juice, OJ and club soda – I bet this would be a great sub for the tart pomegranate.
It was pretty strong, so we diluted it with 7-Up or Seltzer, which was perfect. Ours didn’t need any additional sugar, but I guess that depends on how sweet the original grapes are, or how much of a sweet-tooth you have! Your spritzer sounds wonderful & I think it would taste great with the grape juice!
That looks SO DARNED GOOD. I was happy to see the boiling step after the stomping step…no offense to Emily’s feet!
Yes, even though she’s my ‘precious little baby’ it’s still kinda gross if you think about it! Boiling is a crucial step!!
What fun!! We have grapes too, but have never made juice (we either eat them or give them to our sister who makes wine). But you may have inspired me to try it next year 🙂
The photos were fun; the write-up entertaining; and the grapes, themselves.. beautiful! How nice they alook along your deck railing.
I’m so glad this inspired you – honestly, it was an easy project (or I would be writing an entirely different blog – I hate messy projects with little to no rewards!!). The grapes look like they’re on a railing, but they’re actually on my arbor – and yes, they fall like crazy this time of year and get tracked in the house if you’re not diligent about sweeping them up each morning. Another great reason to pick and use them!!