Those beautiful big, fat, purple grapes that I so love are in season right now. I couldn’t help picking up a few bunches when I went veggie shopping recently, and used them in a Home-Made Grape Squash Recipe that happens to be rather close to my heart. So, so refreshing and lovely!
When I was in school, summer holidays inevitably meant two whole months spent at our maternal grandparents’ place. They were in Hyderabad then, and Amma and I would travel the huge distance between Ahmedabad to their place by train, an excruciating journey of over 24 hours. It would be hot, hot, hot, and there was nothing to beat the heat other than distracting oneself by reading, gazing out the window and gulping down the one ice cream that Amma would allow me per day. I remember getting down at the Hyderabad railway station, my body still shaking from all that rattling around in the train. 🙂 All of that hustle would be worth it in the end, though – it meant two months of being pampered silly by grandmomma, gorging on her gorgeous home-cooked food (I swear I haven’t ever had food that tasty after she stopped cooking!), endless playing around on the streets with the cousins, no following of timetables or alarm clock routines, afternoon naps to the soothing hum of the air cooler, dinners of cooling curd rice handed over to us on our mehendi-coloured hands, sleeping on mats laid out under the starlit sky on the terrace. Summer holidays also translated into being treated to tall bottles of grandmomma’s awesome, awesome home-made purple grape squash.
The Home-Made Grape Squash Recipe I present to you today is the one passed on to me by grandmomma, Master Squash Maker of our family. She knew exactly how much all her grandchildren loved her grape squash, and made sure there were bottles and bottles of it waiting for us in the refrigerator when we landed at her home for our holidays. Days before we arrived, she would get to work. A basket slung over her wrist, she would head out to the market, to choose the best of ripened purple grapes (nothing less than that would do!). After much haggling, she would return home with loads of bunches of juicy grapes, which she would then proceed to meticulously clean, cook, convert to squash, bottle up and refrigerate. A couple of bottles at a time, she would build up her stock of squash – all of which we grandchildren would definitely empty by the time our holidays would come to a close.
This Home-Made Grape Squash Recipe is quite simple, but a no-fail thing, tried and tested by grandmomma several times over. I make it the same way, always, every time purple grapes are in season, and every sip of it brings back tonnes of memories! Sweet and sour, fruity and delicious, this is just the perfect drink for summer-parched throats.
Let us now check out the recipe, shall we?
Ingredients (makes one 500 ml bottle):
- 4 heaped cups of seedless black grapes
- 4 cups of water
- About 1/2 cup of sugar
- Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
- Chilled water, as needed for serving the grape juice
- Place the grapes in a colander, and wash them thoroughly under running water. Let all the water drain out.
- Transfer the washed and drained grapes to a thick-bottomed pan, and add in the 4 cups of water. Place the pan on high flame.
- Stirring intermittently, allow the grapes to cook in the water till they shrivel well and the water changes colour. This can take 5-7 minutes. Switch off gas, and allow this grape syrup to cool down fully.
- When the grape syrup is cool enough to handle, squeeze out all the syrup from the grapes. Transfer the residue to another bowl, add a little water and squeeze out more juice. Add this juice to the syrup you extracted earlier. Repeat this process a couple more times – adding a little water, squeezing out the juice from the grapes, and transferring it to the syrup you prepared earlier (similar to extracting juice from tamarind). Discard the grapes when there is no more juice left in them to squeeze out.
- Place the grape syrup you just extracted in the same pan, and place it on medium heat. Add the sugar to the pan. Allow the sugar to melt fully.
- Stirring intermittently, allow the mixture to cook for a couple more minutes on medium flame. Switch off the gas.
- Add the lemon juice to the grape syrup and mix well. Transfer the grape syrup (squash) to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and store refrigerated.
- At the time of serving, add as much of the grape squash as needed into serving glasses. Add in chilled water as required. Mix well and serve immediately.
1. Seedless grapes make the process of making the squash hassle-free. However, you may use grapes with seeds too.
2. You can use either black (purple) or green grapes to make this squash. I typically use black grapes because I love the deep purple colour they impart to the squash.
3. For best results, use plump grapes that are fat and juicy and in season.Don’t use old or wilted grapes.
4. In-season grapes are typically quite sweet, so you can cut down on the amount of sugar you use in the squash. The above quantity works just perfectly for us.
5. Make sure you wash the grapes thoroughly before embarking on the preparation of the squash.
6. Stored in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle, refrigerated and handled hygienically, the grape squash stays for up to a week.
7. You may omit the lemon juice altogether if the grapes you are using are a bit sour.
8. The flavour of grapes in this Home-Made Grape Squash Recipe is moderate. If you want a stronger, more pronounced flavour like that of store-bought grape drinks, you could add a bit of grape essence to the syrup before refrigerating it. I usually don’t. My aunt swears by the Tonovin brand of grape essence.
9. While preparing the grape juice, you may add ice cubes and/or soda to the serving glasses, along with the chilled water and the grape squash. Grape squash + Tonovin grape essence + chilled water + a splash of soda will give you a drink quite similar to Bovonto, the famous and very delicious grape drink from Tamil Nadu.
10. Make sure you use only very little quantities of water to squeeze out the juice from the grapes. Using too much water will dilute the syrup and cause it to lose its flavour.
11. You can filter the grape squash before you bottle it, too, if you desire – I don’t.
Did you like this Home-Made Grape Squash Recipe? Do try it out, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!