The steamy art of making grape juice

Today was finally time to pick the rest of the grapes.

The vine grows all across the pigsty, which I use as an office… and across the front of the barn. In fact, if I don’t cut it back soon, we might actually lose the house.

So out came the ladders… and up I went to harvest this year’s crop.

It wasn’t long before I’d filled the largest pan in the house. I kept some of the ripest, juiciset ones to go with the cheese I bought for this evening… and took the rest inside to turn into grape juice.

One of the best things I ever bought since coming to Germany has been a steamer. Actually I rarely use it – usually only once or twice a year. But owning one has made me the most popular person in the entire neighbourhood. During the summer months I have a stream of neighbours calling round to borrow it, because they have a glut of plums or apples or elderberries or red currants… inevitably my reward for lending out the steamer is a bottle of the juice they’ve made. In fact, I’d recommend everyone to buy a steamer even if you never make juice yourself. At least you’ll make lots of friends!

It’s an odd sort of contraption. There is a pan at the bottom, which you fill with water. There’s a sieve on the top where the fruit goes… and a section in the middle with a tube sticking out where all the juice collects. A funnel through the middle takes the steam from the water up to the fruit.

As soon as you heat up the water the grapes start to sweat out their juice… it’s like a sauna for grapes.

Once the grapes split open, the juice runs down into the central pan and you can collect into sterilised bottles.

Because it’s been extracted in a steamer, the grape juice is sterile – so if you want to make wine, you need to add your own wine yeast. You can’t rely on the natural yeast in the grape skins.  Somehow I fear my kids will drink all the juice before it ever gets as far as a fermenting jar this year though….

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5 Comments

Filed under food, Life in Germany

5 responses to “The steamy art of making grape juice

  1. Now that’s a fancy gadget – so fancy I had never even known about it! When you wrote steamer, I thought of the regular vegetable steamer.

    We do have a big garden near Schlossborn/Taunus in the woods, but luckily nothing grows there. Only wild things like lily of the valley, poisonous mushrooms, etc.

    I’d suppose you made it off the ladder OK since you were able to post about it.
    Drink and be merry!

  2. I bet it is delicious and so very healthy for the kids!

  3. whoa. i didn’t even know you could make juice that way. i have a press thing, which is basically just a high speed rotating grater. the pulp goes in one container and the juice in another. this is much more impressive though, i have to say. hurray!

  4. Wow … it looks so delicious …
    Where we can buy this juice? I live in Indonesia.

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