How to Make Grape Juice the Old-Fashioned Way

Lois Diguglielmo shares her grandmother's concord grape recipe and tips to make grape juice the old-fashioned way.

| September/October 1975

Concord grapes

How to prepare grapes for juicing and the juicing process, including improved methods, and common mistakes.


For those of us whose goal is eventual self-sufficiency, harvest time has a way of changing from a joyous celebration of reaping to a nightmarish race against the clock. Anyone who tries to raise and preserve a year's supply of food knows the helpless feeling of watching fruits and vegetables relentlessly mature while the pile of undone preserving and storing tasks diminishes so slowly.

As September approached last year, I found myself — as usual — in just such a predicament . . . for no matter how hard I try to plan my fall work, I always end up with more to preserve than I have hours to do the job. I wanted to cry as I watched a beautiful box of purple Concord grapes grow riper and riper. With my corn at its peak and three bushels of peaches at my feet, I felt sure that the sweet clusters would be good for little else but wine by the time I got to them. Once again, nature's generosity had clashed with my scheduling.

"What are you going to do with those?" my mother asked, pointing at the box of grapes.

"Make grape juice. The kids love juice. But how? I'll have to cook, and strain, and . . . oh, I . . . ." I was truly beside myself. We worked in silence, our minds searching for a solution, until — suddenly — my mother came up with a recollection of "how Grandma did it".

Soon, under Mom's direction, I was quickly gathering my largest spare jars to make grape juice: quarts, half–gallons, and gallons. These I rewashed and scalded while a kettle of water heated on the stove.

I then dipped the grapes in cold water, stemmed them, and placed them whole in the clean, empty containers. (Frankly, I guessed at amounts . . . but I'd estimate three quarters to one cup of fruit per each quart of capacity.) A splash of honey — about a tablespoon of the sweetening for each cup of grapes followed the fruit into the jars. That doesn't sound like much, but the Concords had been picked ripe and the results were delicious.

10/17/2017 1:12:02 PM

I made this with good results, but why doesn't it need hotwater bath?

10/17/2017 1:10:58 PM

Years ago I followed a similar recipe and had great results. I thought I saved it on pinterest, but I guess I didn't. So I goggled looking for it, but all recipes similar call for hot water bath. Makes me worry this method isn't safe. Anyone have any other info on this? I really want to make it again.

9/8/2017 12:14:17 PM

in making juice, nothing was allowed for seeds, and skin,do you run it thru something that takes it out of the fruit. have to process in the next few days. can i get an idea

9/8/2017 12:14:14 PM

what about the seeds. concord grapes have seeds nothing was said about them or the skin or do you sommewhere along the line drain them theu cheesecloth

8/22/2016 7:15:07 PM

Are the jars then shelf stable ? Do the jars need pressure canned ? Hubby is harvesting the grapes tomorrow, first year and I'm unsure how to best gets the juice

9/8/2015 11:34:53 PM

Has any of your juice ever fermented? Mine, made the same way, did and I'm not sure what I did wrong.

9/25/2014 5:04:53 PM

For Bonnie, Do not worry about the peel or the grape, you can eat them if you want to. You got it right: sterilize jar, add grapes, add sugar/honey, boiling water. We agitate so everything is dissolved and then store upside down. This creates the vacuum and seals the jar. Okay to consume after two days and will store indefinitely until opened. This is compote and will work for plum, peaches, pears, etc. If it's too strong for you, just dilute your glass with water! Hope this helps.

9/10/2014 12:33:13 PM

Can I use white concord grapes? I've seen others post that they don't have the best flavor. Also just want to see if I have this right for a quart jar fill with 3/4 to 1 cup grapes, about 1 Tablespoon honey and boiling water? No need to process (water bath or pressure cook)? What happens with the peel? Thanks, Bonnie

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