Harmony in the Garden Blog

It’s Grape Crush Time with Roger’s Red

grapes - growing on arbor

Living so close to Sonoma Valley, we thought it would be fun to have our own little ‘crush’ with our one little grapevine.  

I originally planted this vine for its ornamental value, as it has incredible red fall foliage (the variety is ‘Roger’s Red’, a California native).  The grape itself has a ton of little seeds, making it 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 we had growing on our arbor.

  Since I try to seize any activity that my 15-year old wants to do with me (they seem to be getting fewer each year) I grabbed my husband and we dove right in.

It was actually a much easier project than I thought.  I was prepared for a long, messy day, with my family quickly losing interest and abandoning me after 15 minutes.  But they hung in there until the very end, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!

Here’s the step-by-step process, resulting in some of the best grape juice I’ve ever tasted!

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grapes - clustergrapes - picked

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Obviously, the first step is to pick your grapes.  Even though our single vine gave us all of these grapes, believe it or not, we left just about as many on the vine for the robins and mockingbirds to finish off for us.

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grapes - destemming

 

The next step is to de-stem the grapes.  

We removed the stems to avoid the juice becoming woody-tasting, or tannic, once they got crushed. 

This is where it got a bit tedious, but my daughter hung in there for the 20 minutes or so that it took.  

 

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grapes - washing feet

 

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 sort of grossed me out, so I made sure they were first squeaky clean.

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grapes-stomp 1

grapes - stomp 2

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grapes - stomp 3grapes - stomp 4

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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.

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grapes - pouringgrapes - pouring 2

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grapes - using cheesecloth

 

Next, we took the juice into the house to drain it through cheesecloth, removing the smallest particles.

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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.  Cheers!

grapes - pitcher ofgrapes - cheers!

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11 Comments

  • 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!

    • 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!!

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