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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Grape Jam

I'm not a fan of grape jelly--the kind from the store that spreads about as nicely as stiff jello might.

But grape JAM, made of concord grapes from a local friend's garden. THAT is delicious.

My family has become accustomed to homemade jam. It's my own fault, really. I usually make enough jam to last us through the winter. But I dropped the ball last year, and my kids complained when all we had was store-bought raspberry jam. We ate a lot of peanut butter and honey last winter.

This year, I decided would be a good jam year.

Armed with a box of grapes from my friends back in Globe, I got to work. Grape jam takes a little more work than something like raspberry. But it is worth it.

Prep:
Wash your jars, and place them on a cookie sheet in the oven on its lowest setting, to keep them warm. Put your lids in a small saucepan with water, and heat over low heat (it should be just on the verge of simmering). Place a cooling rack or a towel on the counter near your stove.

Step 1:
After washing the grapes, put them in a pot with a cup of water, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes (if some of the skins slip off, don't stress, just throw the whole mess in--the skins provide the beautiful color so don't leave them out).

Step 2:
This next part is what separates the men (jam) from the boys (jelly). You'll want one of these babies:
It's my mom's heavy duty Champion juicer, and it has many uses (including grinding the wheat for the bread that I grew up on). I used it to squeeze all that grapey goodness out of my fruit, while removing the seeds...
So I'm left with a thick, wonderful slurry of grape puree. Not grape juice--that's what we'd use if we wanted jelly. But we're making jam, folks.

Step 3:
Combine 6 cups of grape puree with a box of Sure Jell (I use whatever type of pectin I have on hand, but I pay attention to the directions: measurements do vary).

Step 4: Bring to a rolling boil, then add 7 1/2 cups of sugar (this needs to be pre-measured in a separate bowl so it can be dumped in all at once).





Step 5: Bring to a rolling boil again, and boil for exactly 1 minute. (Sometimes I use an oven mitt; this stuff is super hot and can splatter)


Step 6: Take the pot off the heat, stirring for several seconds to ensure the jam doesn't scorch while the boiling subsides. Take your hot jars out of the oven, and place them on your cooling rack or towel. Ladle or pour the hot jam into the jars, leaving only 1/4 inch at the top (sometimes I break this rule, and skimp a little; it still works out fine).

Step 7: Wipe off the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth to remove any jam that may have dribbled. Place the hot lids on the jars, and screw the rings on tightly. Flip the jars upside-down, and set a timer for 5 minutes. This will keep the rubber on the lids nice and hot, forming a seal (No, I don't do a water bath, and yes, the FDA would be shocked. But hey, what worked for my grandmother works for me.).

Step 8: After your 5 minutes are up, set your jars right side up, and allow them to cool undisturbed. Before long you'll hear random happy little popping sounds that will mean your lids are sealing.

This stuff is SO delicious. I've also made strawberry and raspberry jam, but I find myself reaching for the grape most often. I am finally converted to the almighty peanut butter and grape jam sandwich... but only if it's my homemade grape jam.

1 comment:

Jaime Lynne said...

I need to try a taste of your jelly. It looks amazing. This proves to me once again that you're a regular Martha Stewart.

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