As modern homesteaders our goal is to simplify tasks as much as possible, but yet maintaining a safe, thorough balance of our homestead and our lives. This simplification process also passes through the world of canning – cook down items in the crockpot over night instead of standing over the stove stirring it during the day, using a steam canner to processes high acidic items instead of utilizing a hot water bath, or steam juicing fruit to make a juice concentrate instead of relying on the time consuming traditional method of boiling the fruit and hanging it to drip juice.
My mother-in-law has a small vineyard of wine grapes, and though we initially thought we’d be trying our hand at making wine, we realized that none of us even drank wine…so we found alternative uses for the grapes. Our early fall harvest starts with grapes and a bit of yumminess is brought to items like jelly, juice and fruit leather.
Juicing using a steam juicer (this is the one we use) has truly simplified our lives…well, okay it’s simplified my life. I run a million miles a minute and the word stop is not in my vocabulary. As I write this blog I have the steam juicer full of wine grapes, and it’s working its magic. The steam juicer produces a crystal clear juice concentrate, free of sediment, which is perfect for the items I mentioned, plus a few jars are reserved for a f2 of our home brewed kombucha, and I’m going to tell you it’s really good stuff!
Do not confuse the steam juicer for a fruit and vegetable juicer. Steam juicing is reserved for individuals who are looking to preserve a harvest by extracting the juice and then canning it. The liquid from a steam juicer is considered a concentrate and contains a very minimal amount of nutrients and vitamins due to the steaming process. If you’re juicing for the health benefits acquired from fruits and vegetables the steam juicer is not your best choice.
The process of steam juicing is reserved for individuals who are looking to preserve a harvest through this method of extracting the juice and then canning it. The liquid coming out of a steam juicer is considered a concentrate and contains a very minimal amount of nutrients and vitamins due to the steaming process. f your juicing for the health benefits of fruit & vegetable juice the steam juicer is not your best choice.
You’ll notice the steam juicer comes in 3 parts, the base section (the tank) holds the water, which in turns creates the steam. I add marbles to the tank as a precautionary method, if I can hear the marbles bouncing around I know there’s not enough water in the base container. Not enough water will produce enough steam to do the job and will cause damage to the tank.
The middle section is considered the reservoir, it holds the juice which was extracted by the steam. Attached to the reservoir is a hose, it’s used to release the juice concentrate into a mason jar or glass container.
The top section is known as the strainer; the strainer holds the fresh fruit or items to be steamed. When we steam grapes the entire bunch, including the stem and seeds, are placed into the the strainer.
What I love about the steam juicer is that the entire fruit is placed into the strainer, I don’t have to worry about taking the time to separate the seeds or stem. There’s no wasteful use of a cheese cloth to extract the juice, and truly all I have to do is wash the fruit and allow the steam to do it’s thing.
I’m sure many of you are curious as to how long it takes to transform the grapes into a concentrate, and it really depends on how much natural juices are found in the fruit. Generally, it will take about 20 minutes from the moment you cover the strainer to the last drop enters a jar, but I have had the steamer working for as long as 30 minutes per session.
Once the reservoir is full we release the juice concentrate directed into mason jars. The mason jars will then be immediately canned, steamed canned to be exact!
Our desire to always create a waste-not-want-not product when preserving is important to us. Often the mush, the left over fruit that has been steamed to death, can be transformed into something edible and delicious. For example, when we put up apple juice I use the apple mush to make apple sauce, which by the way everyone loves! I will often dehydrate cherry and cranberry mush and provide them as a snack item. Unfortunately, the grape mush goes directly into the compost because of the seeds, but if anyone out there has any ideas on what I can do with them please let me know!
The processing time for canning the juice concentrate is based on your altitude and the type of juice you are preserving. Here is a great resource by the National Center For Home Food Preservation in regards to the appropriate processing time. And here I go again…we use a nontraditional method of canning to put up juice concentrate, a steam canner…we use this one .
I absolutely love my steam canner, it uses only 1 1/2 inches of water and the canning process is completed through the use of steam! A steam canner also produce less heat in your kitchen making summer canning of high acidic items a bit more bearable.
The steam juicer can be used for a various amount of items, such as making bone broth…yep, you read that right! If you decide you wish to pick up a steam juicer it comes with an amazing manual describing all of the great things that can be done with it!