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Homemade juice

Homemade Concord Grape Juice


fresh-wild-Concord-Grapes-from-Georgetown-MA
Wild Concord Grapes abound here in the North Shore of Massachusetts, and we have one winding it’s way up and around an old Horse Chestnut tree in the back of our Georgetown, MA office. Opening the windows to let the late summer breezes in brings the heavy, sweet fragrance of ripe grapes wafting through with every stir of the leaves. Distracting, but inspirational!

concord-grape-leaves
A local food that’s easily foraged, but often forgotten, I look forward to them every year. Because they are tart and have hard little seeds inside, Concord Grapes are usually not eaten out of hand, but they make the most marvelous juice. If you can manage to collect a colander (standard size) full of them, you can produce a gallon of delicious, fresh grape juice without too much of an effort. Do wear some old clothes though - things can get a bit messy!

a-colander-of-fresh-Concord-Grapes-grapes-to-destem-for-making-homemade-Concord-Grape-juice

Recipe for Homemade Concord Grape Juice:

* Remove the grapes from the stems - if you run your hands lightly down the stems they mostly fall right off. This seems like a daunting task - your hands get absolutely purple - but it goes quickly and the result is worth it.
* Add just enough water to barely cover the bottom of a large stock pot and add the stemmed grapes. Heat on high, and as the water comes to a low boil, start mashing the grapes with a potato masher. It takes under ten minutes of the boiling and mashing to separate the the pits and the skins from the flesh of the grapes. When this has happened, take off the heat and allow the mashed grapes to cool.
* When cooled down, line another pot or very large bowl with a double layer of damp cheesecloth, allowing it to drape over the sides so it won’t collapse. Pour your mashed grapes into the center of the cloth, and very carefully (very carefully!) gather the edge of the cheesecloth together, tie the top loosely, leaving a couple of handles for yourself and find a place to hang the bag you just made.

I tied this over my sink faucet and just let it finish dripping for a half hour.

smashed-concord-grapes-draining-in-damp-cheesecloth-for-homemade-Concord-grape-juice

* You can leave it longer if you want very clear juice, but I just squeezed it until I thought I’d gotten most of the juice extracted.

a-glass-of-fresh-concord-grape-juice

* You can cut this concentrated juice with other juices or water, or even save a cup or two to make jelly. It’s not very sweet as-is, but a teaspoon or two of sugar per cup will bring out the pure grape flavor and tame the tartness.

Drinking the juice plain is terrific, but if you are in the mood for an adult drink, do try this simple cocktail!
Concord Grape Cocktail*

* 6 ounces fresh grape juice
* 1 ounce vodka
* Splash of tonic water

Mix grape juice and vodka together, add the splash of tonic water and serve on the rocks."
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