This is my first year canning fruit. I have made salsa and peach jelly before (with my mom's help). But this year I finally took the leap and tried doing it alone. It has been so easy I can't believe I didn't do it sooner! I get so many questions about the process, I decided to write a post to answer them all and give some tips.
First off, I don't have fruit trees other than a cherry tree. I only like fresh cherries, so we just try to eat as much as we can when they are ripe and freeze a few bags for smoothies. Now, on the other hand, my family loves canned peaches, pears, applesauce, grape juice, you name it, they can't get enough. We eat fresh fruit as much as we can, but when our favorites aren't in season, we use canned. My neighbors and family have so much extra fruit every year and are so kind to share with us. This year they had so much that I decided to can everything we couldn't eat. We ended up with 76 quarts of peaches, 36 quarts of pears, 48 quarts of concentrated grape juice, and 48 quarts of apple sauce and apple cider. I feel like I might have gone a bit over board this being my first year and all. But I just couldn't stop. It's so fulfilling to preserve your own food. My only regret is that I was so busy with all the fruit that I didn't get to my garden fast enough before the freeze and my tomatoes and peppers all died. No salsa this year sadly.
The work is easy, the kids LOVE to help, and it's free food! You do have to invest in jars, which tend to be around $10 for a dozen. But you can re-use the jars every year, so once you have them, you really can save a ton of money and have healthy organic preserved food for your family. If you don't have neighbors with fruit trees, don't be shy about asking strangers if you can pick their fruit. So many people don't pick their fruit and it just ends up rotting on the ground. If you purchase your produce, look for sales when they are in season, or shop local roadside markets for the best prices on bulk.
Secondly, canning is a team project. Get your family and friends involved. My kids helped me pick, boil, peel, cut, and proc cess our fruit. We just turn on some good music and spend the night singing and dancing in the kitchen. These are the memories I hope they remember from their childhood. Canning is a labor of love but so worth the work.
This was my first year making grapes. I didn't have a juicer so I teamed up with Victorio to try their Deluxe Steam Juicer . Did you know they are a local Utah company from Orem? They also have an outlet store (directions below).
Grape juice is BY FAR the easiest of all the things I have canned and the smell... you guys, my mouth is watering just writing this post.
Stay tuned for my apple sauce and cider tutorial!
Prep: Pick grapes & wash. I like to pick after the first freeze. The grapes should be good for a couple days in a cold garage until you are able to juice them. I wash/rinse grapes one batch at a time as I load them into the steamer pot.
Bring water to boil in bottom pot (never let this water run dry). Turn down to soft boil and place middle pot on bottom pot (this is where the juice will collect). Then place the top pot full of grapes on top and cover with lid. Steam for 1 hr.
When steaming is complete, drain juice into sterilized jars and place a sterilized lid on top, then screw lid on. Set aside.
When all your jars are filled, start your water bath. My mom never did water baths (so I'm following in her rebel footsteps) but it is recommended that you do so for 10 minutes.
Thats it! Done! So easy. Way less messy than peaches and pears and you guys, there are no words for how good this juice is! It makes my mouth water just typing this post up. I hope this was helpful. I'm seriously addicted now. Bring on the next batch!
Victorio Outlet Store
1804 Sandhill Road
Orem, Utah 84058