The “I Love Lucy” scene is famous: Lucy and Ricky go to Italy, and Lucy finds herself in the middle of a huge grape vat, squashing grapes with her feet.
Not so famous is a different way of getting grape juice from the beautiful fruit.
My Amish friend, Miss Lydia, showed me how she makes juice with a steamer. The photo above is of a four-piece steamer that can be purchased in many stores in this area, including Eash Sales and Yoder Hardware. They’re not cheap, but if a friend and you share the cost, purchasing a steamer is much easier on the purse strings.
The steamer is also worth the cost, because the first time you drink homemade grape juice, you’ll make your own every season. It’s like drinking nectar from heaven.
Of course, you must start with sweet Concord grapes. Other grapes can be used, too, but I’ve always made my juice from the Concord grapes. Unlike apples, the grape harvest is abundant this year.
I saw grapes both at the Shipshewana Flea Market and at local Amish-owned produce markets, but instead of buying at either of these locations, I took a beautiful Indian Summer drive into Michigan, just over the Indiana border, to an orchard. I was able to pick my own grapes, and I had to stop and have my own private church service right there in the orchard, just the grapes, God, and me. There’s nothing like being surrounded by Eden-like nature.
After cleaning the grapes (Miss Lydia taught me to fill the sink up with cold water and use one very small squirt of dish detergent to wash off any pesticides), all I do is fill the top part of the steamer to the brim with these deep purple beauties.
I then fill the bottom portion of the steamer with water. The middle part has a few holes so that the steam comes through, steaming the grapes and creating juice that gathers in the middle container.
After about an hour, I unclamp the hose on the front and pour the juice straight into my clean jars. The lids go on, the jars get turned upside-down, creating a seal from the heat, and that’s all there is to it.
When it comes time to drink the juice, I take 1 jar of juice, mix it with the same jar filled with water, and add 1 cup of sugar.
Goodbye store-bought, hello homemade.
I am oh-so-glad Miss Lydia showed me how to make my own grape juice. She also showed me how to make grape jam from the juice as well.
And, she treated me to my first-ever piece of grape pie!
Lydia warned me that once I made my own juice, I would be hooked. She’s right. I am.
I’m just glad she lets me borrow her steamer each year.
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