Friday, August 31

An Aroma of the Grape Variety

A neighbor recently gave me two grocery bags full of organic purple grapes.
Two plastic grocery bags. Full.
The grapes we got.
That's a lot of grapes. So we made jam.
This was the first time I have ever made jam of any kind. My parents make strawberry jam every year and going over to their house on processing day smells wonderful. I was hoping for the same type of aroma, only one of the grape variety.
Boiling to loosen the skins.
I did get a kitchen full of wonderful grape smell and I loved it. I also got a big mess and a stained counter top. A small price.
I followed this recipe and I think it turned out pretty well. I started by sorting through all the grapes and removing all stems and any grapes with spots or signs of a problem. I then washed all the grapes with cold water and put them in a large stock pot on the stove with some water.
Yes - it is very messy.
I used a potato masher to basically mash all the grapes into a big seedy, skin filled mess, brought it to a boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Now it gets really messy.

I placed a pasta strainer over a large bowl and carefully used a soup ladle to put the grape mix in the strainer. I smashed it around a little with the ladle and strained the juice out of all the pulp (seeds and skins). This takes a while and it is messy. I ended up with a big bowl of mushy pulp to toss out in the side field and about 4 quarts of grape juice.

According to the recipe, this is a good stopping point if you only have a certain amount of time, which is pretty much the story of my life right now. I placed the juice in the fridge and cleaned up.
The kitchen smelled great and I put the whole project on hold until the next day.
Making jam with 3 1/2 year old and a 10 month old is not something I would advise. I am 35 and my kitchen was a mess with just me wielding the potato masher.
Luckily, the next day was my weekly 'have my Mom over to entertain the kids' day, so finishing up the jam was on the schedule. I cleaned and heated the pint mason jars and got everything ready to go.

I strained the grape juice a second time to make sure I had gotten all the seeds out the day before, which I was glad of since I did miss some seeds.

A big stock pot, 5 cups of grape juice, 7 cups of sugar (7 cups of sugar!!!!), pectin and lots of stirring resulted in 9 very nice jars of dark purple grape jam.
I have enough grape juice left to make another batch so I may head to the store today and pick up some more canning jars and pectin.
Notes on my first jam making:
- Find a recipe that does not call for so much sugar next time, or use a sweetener substitute that is not going to turn the little man into more of a crazy monster than he already is. I only used this one because I had the sugar on hand and I was short on time to complete the jam.
- It is good to have a few 2 quart pitchers on hand around the kitchen in general. They come in handy and don't cost much. You can also never go wrong with having an extra strainer or two. Or three.
 - Use the funnel when you ladle the jam into the jars, even if you think you can get by without it. Once you start using the ladle, it is hard to try to go dig out the funnel. It is even harder to harness the attention of a three and a half year old little boy and ask him to get you the funnel.

Cheese inspects the finished product

1 comment:

  1. there's a low-sugar/no-sugar variety of pectin in most grocery stores. I use about 1/4 to 1/2 the sugar of the regular recipe and it comes out great. Especially if your fruit is really naturally sweet--I think more of the fruit flavor can shine through.