Making grape juice

Oh autumn is already here! The weather is a bit cooler, the leaves are starting to turn brown and some of the typical autumn fruits got mature. Last week was the time of grapes!

My parents-in law have a beautiful vine tree spanning over a small type of pergola. In winter it is nothing impressive, but in spring it comes in life, becoming totally green with leaves. And at this period there are nice dark grapes hanging down!

Isn’t it beautiful?

Last weekend we were visiting our parents, so they asked for our help to make grape juice. They had bought a nice looking manual fruit press for this purpose and last Sunday was booked for the family activity. Even the weather was good!

The nice looking manual fruit press assembled

We started with collecting the grapes, throwing the parts that didn’t look good and taking the edible grapes away from the stem. We didn’t want to put them with the green parts in the press. In the meanwhile, the press was screwed on a piece of wood in order to increase its stability and was assembled.

The fruit ready to go in the press

Once the press was full, the juice production started! Admittedly, it needed quite some pressure to extract the juice from the grapes!

A family activity!

With every batch we were pressing, we optimised the process. So we concluded that it was easier to fully extract the juice if the press was half full and not filled to the top. In addition, we noticed that if the net was as in the pictures, the grapes were escaping from the top, so we folded the net-bag and then added the wooden parts on the top.

The juice is being collected

We did try the juice ever since the first extract. It tastes nice and it smells amazingly! Just fresh juice without any additives or sugar! Nature in its best!

The result of our work!

So this week we are drinking a lot of grape juice!


Making elderberry jam

This is a big day! Finally after almost two months I am writing again from the desktop computer! I am almost finished with unpacking and setting up our new home, so today I finally have time to tell you about the new jam we made in the beginning of August!

Remember in May that we made elderberry flower syrup and jam? Especially the jam was such a success! Everybody around liked it quite a lot. It has a light refreshing and not too sweet taste.

After a really nice and quite warm summer, the rest of the flowers we did not cut to make syrup or jam have turned to nice dark coloured berries. So last Sunday my mother-in-law suggested we make some elderberry jam!

Look at the nice dark red to black colour the berries have!

The procedure is quite easy. First we collected a satisfactory amount of berries. They need to be dark coloured, which means they are ripe and ready for the jam. Unfortunately they can’t be eaten raw, as they are a bit sour.

Then we removed the berries from the small stems they hang from. This was the most tedious part of the preparation, but with the help of a fork the work is easier done. And don’t worry about some small stems or unmature berries.

Removing the berries from the stems
All the berries in the pot. Even if there are a few not totally mature inside, it doesn’t destroy the taste of the jam. And don’t worry if a few small stems are also inside.

Once we had all the berries collected in the pot we were ready to start with the jam. They need to be boiled with water, so as to give their juice. The volume of water added is half the weight of the berries. So in our case we had 1.4kg berries and we boiled them with 750ml water. Let the water boil until the berrie burst, then turn the heat off and let it cool down.

Let the berries boil and turn off the heat. The liquid has a really nice red colour!

The next step involves putting the juice and berries through a sieve so that only the liquid is collected. This is exactly why it was not important to remove absolutely every small stem. It should be noted though, that you should not press the berries in the sieve so as to collect more. That would just result in making the final jam bitter. The berries have given what juice is to be used for the jam while bursting from boiling.

Sieving 2
Extract only the juice without pressing the berries. Attention as it might be quite hot, as in our case.

And finally the last step of the jam: We have to boil the juice together with jam sugar. For 5dl elderberry juice we need 300g jam sugar. We first add half of the sugar with the juice and boil it for 2 minutes, then we add the other half of the sugar and boil another 2 minutes. Gentle mixing is important during all this procedure.

The jam is ready when once you pour a small quantity on a clean plate and let it cool for a moment, it is viscous enough to hold the plate vertical and the jam to run down really slowly, as we did in the elderberry flower jam.

In the meanwhile the jars were washed with hot water and they are filled with the warm jam, while they are still warm themselves, and turned around so that that they close air-tightly.

The jars filled with the warm jam and turned around so as to get sealed airtight

By now we have tried it and it is really nice too! It has a bit heavier taste than the flowers, comparable to any other berry jam. It has been such a successful year for homemade jam production!




Making elderberry syrup and jam

I am a total city child. I grew up in a city of 5 million inhabitants. This means I gained in several matters, mainly cultural, but I lost in others, like contact with nature.

One of the main advantages of our moving to Switzerland is living closer to my mother-in-law. We have a really nice relationship and I get to know more about nature. I can now recognise many herbs myself! And I am getting close to distinguishing the berries among them (they used to be a total mess in my mind before meeting my husband).

Spring is around and the flowers are blooming. Last week the weather was mostly rainy and not good enough to do anything in the garden, but on Friday the sun was shining again. It was the appropriate day to head towards the beautifully blooming tree that my mother-in-law introduced as holunder (sambucus or elderberry in english).

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The elderberry tree

As every year, it was time to make elderberry syrup (well the first time for me). The recipe is pretty easy: 15 to 20 bunches of flowers, 3 lemons in slices and syrup. For the syrup we boiled 3 lt water, 2 kg sugar and 60 g citric acid and once everything was homogenised, we let it cool down a bit and added it to the jars that contained the flowers and lemons. In one of the jars we added a few leaves of lemon balm (zitronenmelisse in german), so as to try it. Then we stored the jars in a warm and sunny place. They will have to stay for 5 days and then our elderberry syrup (holundersirup in german) will be ready!


The jars with the elderberry flowers and the lemon slices ready to receive the syrup once it is cooled down
Our elderberry syrup is getting ready

Since our tree had so nice flowers, my mother-in-law suggested we try making elderberry flower jam. We collected about 25 bunches of the small nice flowers and added to them 1.2 lt boiling water. We then let them soak for at least 6 hours.


After 6 hours we filtered the liquid that had turned yellowish. The recipe underlined that we should try the liquid and if it is bitter, it should be discarded.


Fortunately, ours was not, so we added the juice of two limes and half a kilo of jam sugar and brought it to boil. Once it boiled for 2 minutes, we added another half a kilo jam sugar and let it boil for another 2 minutes.


To check if it is ready, we dropped a small quantity on a plate and once it cooled down a bit it should be viscous.

This is how we tried if our jam was ready

We filled our jars, added nice little labels and let them cool down, so that it becomes viscous.


And yesterday in the morning we had a nice Sunday breakfast with zopf and our own homemade holunderblüten gelee (yes this is how we call the elderberry flower jam here!).

Perfect Sunday breakfast