Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Grape Jam

We have some "wild" Concord grapes in the yard.  I assume someone planted them back in the 1800s because when I look them up, they are known to grow well in this region and were planted all over the place back then.  For all of my life, they've just rambled around, doing their thing and producing grapes that are full of seeds and not great to eat.

Every September, they'd turn purple and look pretty, but we never did anything with them.

We've cut them back, let them go, cut them down to nothing, etc. and back they come, year after  year.

So, last year, I thought I'd try making jelly out of them because it seemed like a banner year for them.  It was a major hit, so I've been eagerly anticipating making more this year.  They seem to be ripening at different rates this  year, so I was only able to get this much for my first round.

I don't know how big the colander is, but I think it's enough to hold at least 2 quarts, which is what I needed. You see a lot of green grapes in there, but so many were ripe enough to be splitting, I felt like I had to bring them in.

I went through and took out all of the purple grapes and composted the rest.  I had just enough for 2 quarts.

I am petrified of canning and don't trust what goes on in those jars once I've put them away, even when I follow all of the rules.  The only recipes I will follow are these because the USDA approves them.  Which is ridiculous because the USDA approves lots of things I don't approve of.

But, we all need something to believe.

I see people wildly canning all sorts of things and I cringe because they are doing everything my special guide says not to do.

Lots of jelly making requires pectin, which is something that I don't grow.  I try to can things using only what I've grown, which is kind of the point.  (except cranberries and apples, which I do not grow but at least they are local)  Pectin is what makes things gel, but there is a whole list of jellies and jams that don't need pectin, so I choose to make grape jam.

This just means that the skins are still in the mix.  Which is fine with me because they are so cooked, they're barely noticeable.  And, I think the skins add a little heft which makes for more jars!

Grape jam is the fastest thing to can.  You use the boil water method which means no pressure cooker or canner.  And, it's only 5 minutes once it's boiling.  Faster than anything else out there!

The tedious part is separating the pulp from the skins.

You put all of the pulp and seeds in one pan and cook them until they are soft and the skins all go in the other for about 15 minutes.  This is when you know you have the right grapes because it smells like Welch's has just taken over your kitchen.  I was so blown away by this last year, I think I stood in awe, sniffing the air the entire time.

Once the skins have been cooked, you put the pulps through the food mill, which is always a fun thing for me!

This is what keeps all of the seeds from getting into the jam.  I just love this thing so much because it was a cheap buy but it's an amazing product.  And it's fairly easy to clear out once you're done and it's dishwasher safe.

Then comes the adding of the sugar.  This part kills me every time.  Because when you add the sugar, you realize that's all jellies and jams are.  It says to add 6 cups of sugar.  And believe it or not, that's one rule I don't exactly follow.  I add about 4.   And that is more than sweet enough.  Adding 2 more cups would make it thick, like fudge!

At that point, you have to let the sugar and juice boil together until they are thick enough to gel.  There's a who explanation of "sheeting" which is when you take a metal spoon and dip it into the liquid.  When you lift if up, if the syrup drips down in several separate drops, it's not quire ready.  If the syrup all comes to one spot and drips, then you're ready.

I'm always really afraid it will burn, so I never put it up high enough to start.

Once it's thick enough, jar it and process it and voilĂ .

I got 5  pint jars plus a little bit that didn't fit but wasn't enough for another half pint.  I use it all year in yogurt.  No one ever puts grape jelly in yogurt, but it's fantastic.  And because I use it for my yogurt, I'm not too eager to share!  I gave away a couple of jars last year, but under extreme duress!

There are more out there ripening now.  I hope I can get them before the raccoons do!  It's not a very long process but I have to have a few hours, which I never do in the early fall!  If I do another batch, I should have enough for 5-6 more pints.

Considering the abuse the vines get (ignoring, no deliberate tending or watering, cutting back at all times of the year willy-nilly) it's amazing I can get such a sweet delight out of them!

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1 comment:

  1. My MIL used to make jam all the time. I've never tried it, but I bet it must taste so delicious to have it homemade.


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