If you end up with a lot of fresh table grapes that you’d like to deal with quickly so they don’t spoil, read on! Here are three quick ways to preserve grapes in order of time consumption and hassle for the busy homesteader and DIYer.
What’s the Best Way to Preserve Grapes?
The best way to preserve grapes is the one the works best for your climate and for which you have the equipment.
- If you have a steam juicer or pressure cooker/instant pot, then turning grapes into grape juice will preserve them for the longest duration.
- If you’d like to eat your grapes and you have a dehydrator or oven, turning fresh grapes into raisins and/or fruit leather will work well for you.
- If all you have is a freezer, then freezing them is a great option!
We detail and assist you in learning all these methods, so just keep reading to decide how best to preserve your grapes.
Preparing to Preserve Grapes
To prepare your grapes for preservation with any method:
- Plan to preserve grapes within 24 hours of picking them, if you’re growing your own. You can preserve grapes after that first day, of course, but for optimal flavor and results, try to aim for that window. Grapes aren’t as perishable as a strawberry, but they aren’t as long-lasting as an apple. If you’ve purchased your grapes at market, try to move as speedily to preserve them because they may have traveled great distances before ending up in your kitchen.
- If you have to store your grapes for a day or so before preserving them, plan to keep store-bought grapes in their plastic bag with holes in the refrigerator. Check on them every few days for mold. If you’re picking your grapes fresh, leave them at a cool temperature and process them as soon as possible.
- Wash your grapes and remove any stem fragments. For an natural produce wash, please visit Rockin W Homestead here.
- You can also do a special wash on green grapes to prevent browning up around the top, if you have the time – click here to learn how to do that. If you’re in a hurry, you can just skip it, though.
- Lay them out on a screen or towel to dry.
Estimated time to wash grapes = 5 minutes
3 Quick Ways to Preserve Grapes
These ways to preserve grapes are presented in order of quickness and ease. Bear in mind that this is very relative – what seems easy and quick to me may seem laborious to you.
Also, special equipment is mentioned for each method of preserving grapes that you may or may not have. An alternative is suggested when possible in case you don’t own the equipment cited.
Method #1 – Can You Freeze Grapes for Later Use?
Yes, you can! This is by far the easiest and quickest way to preserve grapes for future use and they make wonderful, cool snacks on a hot day.
- Special Equipment = A freezer
- Alternative = None; skip this step if you don’t own a freezer
- Estimated Time = About 5 minutes, cleaning, dry and freeze time
To Freeze Grapes
- After washing, be very sure that your grapes are completely dry.
- Place them on a jelly roll pan or any flat surface with a lip to prevent the grapes from rolling off.
- Try to be sure the grapes aren’t touching if you’re going to use them as snacks. The grapes might stick together if they’re touching as they freeze. However, most often, you can easily pop them apart if they stick. If you’re using them in smoothies, don’t worry about it at all.
- Place the tray into the freezer and freeze overnight to be sure they’re solid.
- Store in a freezer-tight container and use for snacks or in smoothies. Depending on your container, you can store for several months in the freezer – about the same time as a berry. Frozen grapes never last that long at my house, though.
Seedless grapes work best for snacks; seeded grapes do well in smoothies.
Method #2 – Preserve Grapes as Fruit Leather
Making fruit leather is a great way to preserve grapes quickly and provide your family with a snack food you might normally buy. Grape is a favorite flavor for most kids, so this is a win-win scenario!
Making your own fruit leather is almost as fast as freezing the grapes. There are a few more steps, especially if you don’t have a dehydrator. For more detailed instructions, please visit our article on how to make fruit leather in general – click here.
- Special Equipment = A dehydrator
- Alternative = An electric oven or solar oven
- Estimated Time = About 10 minutes, excluding cleaning, drying and dehydrating time
To Make Grape Leather
If you choose to make grape juice (as detailed below), you can use the leftover grape mush and skins from that process to make grape leather. You can also use fresh grapes.
- Put the leftover grape mush (from juice making) or fresh, washed grapes into a blender. Amounts are relative to however many grapes you want to process. One blender body full of grapes (roughly 4 cups) will reduce to about half once it’s blended (roughly 2 cups). That amount of blended fruit will usually make one full tray of fruit leather.
- Add 1-2 Tbsps. of sweetener for every cup of blended fruit, to taste. Omit altogether, if you prefer. You may also add in spices like cinnamon and cloves – start at 1/8 tsp for each and taste the blend. It’s better to add too little than too much.
- To preserve the color a bit better, you may also add 1 Tbsps. of lemon juice (pasteurized is always recommended for food preservation recipes) per cup of fruit puree. You may also omit this, if you prefer.
- Spread the fruit puree onto a silicone mat or dehydrator parchment evenly getting to the desired thickness of 1/4″.
- Dehydrate at 135 F/57 C for 4-8 hours depending on ambient humidity and temperature, water content of fruit, etc. Follow the instructions for your brand of dehydrator.
- Dehydrate your grape leather until you can press your finger in the center of it without leaving an indent.
- Remove from the sheets and allow to cool. Cut and store in glass or plastic.
- For further instructions on how to use your solar oven or your electric oven to make fruit leather – as well as to get further instruction on this process – please click here.
Method #3 – Preserve Grapes as Juice
The easiest and quickest way to process grapes into juice is with a steam juicer. This is also the cleanest way! To learn to make your own fruit juice with a steam juicer, please visit this article.
- Special Equipment = A steam juicer
- Alternative = A large sauce pot
- Estimated Time = About 20 minutes, excluding cleaning and drying time
Concord grapes make a wonderful juice – probably the most palatable for kids, too. They can be pricey to purchase, but you can learn to grow your own. To do that, please visit this post:
If you don’t own a steam juicer:
- Place cleaned grapes into a large sauce pot.
- Add one cup of water per quart of grapes.
- Crush the grapes with a potato masher to release their juice. If you need a bit more water to just cover the grapes in the pot, add it now.
- Cover and bring to a simmer; remove lid.
- Stirring frequently, cook until grapes are soft – around 10 minutes.
- Using a fine mesh sieve with cheesecloth place inside, remove grape skins and seeds by straining the grape juice into a glass or other heat proof container.
- Allow to cool, adding sweetener to taste. Drink immediately, or store in the fridge for up to three days.
- You may also leave the grape juice hot and water bath can quart jars of it for 10 minutes. Follow the instructions for your water bath canner. This will make it shelf stable.
You may also turn your grape juice into natural grape soda with kefir water. To learn to do that with Wellness Mama, click here.
If you don’t care for kefir, learn to lacto-ferment your grape juice and then make your own gut healthy Grape Jello with Learning and Yearning.
How Do You Store Grape Juice for a Long Time?
The best way to store any juice is in a cool, dark environment out of direct sunlight. A root cellar will work well, but so will a pantry closet or even under your bed!
Do keep in mind that if a jar breaks, grape juice stains most surfaces.
Other Ways to Preserve Grapes
There are other, more time consuming ways of preserving grapes. Though it’s not speedy, the most common is to make raisins from them. To learn to do that, please visit this article.
Once you’ve made raisins, you can toss the into just about anything. For example, set your kids to making this simple and healthy trail mix. Or these Rob Roy Scottish Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.
Also appealing is this delectable recipe for Old Fashioned Grape Jam from one of my favorite homestead writers, Practical Self Reliance.
If you like your grapes wild on the wild side, Texan Angi Schneider of Schneider Peeps can teach you three different ways to preserve Mustang Grapes.
You may also not bother with preserving them at all and simply use them right away. Try this delicious grape coffee cake, for example.
Preserving the Harvest
In an effort to get my canning/preserving year organized BEFORE I’m drowning in the harvest, I joined this Preserving the Harvest Roundup of articles from scads of my favorite homestead writers.
I love to have a store of foods all year round, but I’m busy and a bit of an airhead. I need other people’s genius to be successful! So, here for your benefit and mine, is a list of links that give detailed information on preserving 23 of the most popular fruits and vegetables.
You’ve just read my grape article, now see what else you might need! I’m going to go make a plan for:
- Cauliflower – which we eat by the bucket load
- Mulberries – which I will now plan to make fruit leather with after reading the article in this list
- Radishes – which I have never even thought to preserve. Duh.
Preserving Vegetables (in alphabetical order)
How to Preserve Carrots by Freezing, Canning, and More from Oak Hill Homestead
4 Easy Ways to Preserve Cauliflower from Dehydrating Made Easy
Cucumber Fresh Pack Garlic Dill Pickles Recipe from The Self Sufficient HomeAcre
Make Your Own Garlic Powder and Other Ways to Preserve Garlic from Learning & Yearning
How to Freeze Your Green Bean Harvest from The Reid Homestead
How to Preserve Leafy Greens from Homespun Seasonal Living
Preserving Okra by Freezing, Canning, Fermenting, and Dehydrating from Schneider Peeps
5 Ways to Preserve Onions for Storage from Rockin W Homestead
How to Dehydrate Parsnips & Make Parsnip Chips from The Purposeful Pantry
3 Ways to Preserve Peppers from Grow a Good Life
5 Ways to Store Potatoes from A Modern Homestead
Ways to Preserve Radishes from The Purposeful Pantry
How to Freeze Squash (and Other Preservation Methods) from Our Inspired Roots
Freezing Tomatoes for Preserving Later in the Year from Stone Family Farmstead
3 Easy Ways to Preserve Zucchini from Grow a Good Life
Preserving Fruit (in alphabetical order)
Guide to Preserving Apples from Oak Hill Homestead
3 Ways To Preserve Fresh Summer Berries from Better Hens & Gardens
How to Make Cherry Jam from Scratch from The Self Sufficient HomeAcre
3 Quick Ways to Preserve Grapes from Homestead Lady
3 Best Ways To Preserve Mulberries from My Homestead Life
How To Preserve Oranges On The Homestead from 15 Acre Homestead
How to Freeze Peaches from A Modern Homestead
How To Preserve Strawberries On The Homestead from 15 Acre Homestead