Concord grapes are ripening all over the northeast and midwest. These venerable grapes have been permanently planted in the American consciousness via commercial grape juice and grape jelly. Remember that childhood delicacy PBJ? Purists insist that only grape jelly should be allowed to accompany the peanut butter on a true PBJ. And the vast majority of grape juice and grape jelly is produced from Concord grapes.
I have very pleasant memories of our little grape orchard at my childhood home. The grapes were trellised in a rectangle about 15×20 feet. There was a nice little picnic area inside the enclosure. We had Niagara, Catawba and Concord grapes growing there. There was just enough to have fresh grapes in season and for my mother to make some jelly. My first lessons and experiences with pruning were with grapes. In February, I would put on my gloves, grab the pruners and head out to the grape vines regardless the weather. It was a very satisfying job and positively impacted the production the following season.
We were lucky enough to live in the Finger Lakes region of New York State which, at the time, was a struggling fruit growing region. The lakes were lined with small orchards offering fresh fruit throughout the seasons. Many of those orchards died off in the 70’s and 80’s only to be replaced by vineyards and a thriving wine making industry! As a child, I would spend many a pleasant morning or afternoon (or at least pleasant in retrospect…) picking fruit with my parents. Later in life, as the orchards dwindled, I was able to find abandoned vineyards that still yielded abundant clusters of Concord and Niagara grapes.
Of course, we made gallons of grape juice all throughout my early years. Grapes and the Mehu-Liisa Steam Juicer are a match made in Heaven. The resulting juice is concentrated, satiny and delicious. We always diluted with water or seltzer before we drank it as it was so concentrated. Depending on the season and the ripeness of the grapes, we may have added a cup of sugar or left the grapes just as they were, sweet and flavorful. That’s one of the benefits of juicing with Mehu-Liisa, you can have your juice just as you prefer – sweetened or unsweetened.
This weekend I am going in search of grapes (both red and white) and some late peaches and the new crop of Italian Prune Plums. I will be busy juicing all day for the next couple days. Check back for instructional videos on basic juicing practices.
Take Care – Daniel