My husband’s grandmother has a beautiful row of purple grape vines that tend to produce in bounty every year. One year grandma called and said none of the other grandkids wanted the grapes that year.
If you know me and my love for gardening and fresh homegrown produce, you can guess I didn’t hesitate when grandma asked us if we wanted the grapes that year. Of course we did! Peter’s mom willingly transported the grapes from Indiana to Illinois for us. I had never juiced grapes before, and I was utterly excited. Seriously, guys, I love to garden, freeze, and can produce, but we don’t have grape vines.
My mother-in-law brought two huge coolers full of homegrown purple grapes. She also brought grandma’s big old juicer for us. We juiced, and we canned, and we juiced, and we canned. We ended up with about 30 quarts of beautiful purple grape juice.
This was three years ago.
And we still have 30 quarts of beautiful purple grape juice. 🙂
I guess I should have had a better plan for the grape juice. Haha. We don’t drink much juice. We don’t have an interest in making wine. I can’t justify making jelly (it’s just pure sugar in my mind.)
I have a rule in our home. I don’t keep canned goods for longer than two years. I broke the rule on this one, and now I have to figure out how to use up all our grape juice.
I am making fruit leathers in abundance right now. I’ve made them in the past with pureed peaches, and they froze well. Currently, all our grape juice is being dehydrated into fruit leathers.
A couple years ago, when we canned all our grape juice, we called to tell grandma thank you for all her grapes. She was impressed with how much canning we did, and she then asked what ratio of sugar to grape juice we used. We told her we didn’t use any sugar. She balked at us. You didn’t use any sugar!?!? Well there is no such thing as good grape juice if you don’t add any sugar.
Well, grandma was right. The grape juice was a bit sour. When I made these fruit leathers, I knew I needed some sort of sweetener. I didn’t want to add just sugar. I had made these leathers before with our canned apple sauce, but I didn’t want to use up all our applesauce in our fruit leathers. (Although the apple sauce worked well too.)
Our solution was to use some bananas to sweeten the grape juice.
A simple recipe for homemade grape juice fruit leathers.
1 Quart of grape juice (with no sugar added.)
2 medium, ripe bananas
Mix the grape juice and bananas together in a blender. Pour the banana and grape juice mixture into a sauce pan. Simmer the juice over medium heat for about 90 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Pour the simmered down juice onto a jelly roll sheet covered with parchment paper. It should be a syrup type texture now. Spread the juice out thin. Bake in a 200 degree oven for 3 hours.
If you find that your fruit leathers are still a little sticky, you can leave them in the oven a bit longer. Or, take them and set them out on the counter over night and let them finish drying out.
If you find that your fruit leathers got a little over done and turned crispy on the edges, use a basting brush. Dip the brush into water, and brush some water on the fruit leather to let it re-absorb some moisture.
Roll up the parchment paper and cut it into strips using a pizza cutter or scissors.
Store the homemade fruit leathers in a sealed bag in the freezer.