Wednesday, August 22, 2012

grape jelly

Last year at this time, I was drowning in peaches and nectarines, the tomatoes were just beginning to ripen, and the grapes weren’t going to be ready for nearly another month.


This year, we never got any nectarines (thanks a lot, funky spring), we finished up the peaches over a week ago, and I’m in the middle of tomatoes and grapes. It feels weird to be so far ahead of ourselves, seasonally, but it’s going to be nice to wrap up the garden a little early.


On Saturday I turned our first grapes into jelly. I think grape jelly might just be my all-time favorite jelly. It’s so rich and vibrant. And it’s so terribly easy to make. One juicer load yields enough grape juice for three batches of jelly ... which equals exactly 12 pints and 3 half pints.


When making jams and jellies, I almost always refer to the handy-dandy guide that I’ve saved from a long-ago purchased box of Sure-Jell.


Instead of Sure-Jell, though, I use Natural Dutch Gel. I buy it in bulk, and come jelly-making season, we plow through the stuff. (I’ve already made six batches of peach jam, and I made three more batches of grape jelly yesterday.)


Grape Jelly
Adapted from the Sure-Jell pamphlet

5 cups unsweetened grape juice
7 cups sugar
½ cup natural Dutch gel

Wash the jars (four pints and one half-pint) and place in a 200 degree oven. Set the lids in a saucepan of hot water so the rubber can soften.

Pour the juice into a large soup pot. (The boiling jelly will rise up quite high, so make sure you have lots of space.) Add the Dutch gel and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Once the juice is boiling, stir in the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil again and boil hard for one minute.

Remove the kettle from the heat and ladle the jelly into the jars. Wipe the rims, lid, and screw on the rings. Set the jars on a towel and don’t touch them for at least 12 hours.

PS. This is my 1000th post! One thousandth. ONE THOUSANDTH!

This same time, years previous: whole wheat buttermilk waffles, earthy ponderations, part two, cold curried corn soup

14 comments:

  1. I am inordinately proud of myself for managing to put up 2 batches of strawberry and 2 batches of peach jam this year. And if you ever need a new set of instructions, I can mail you mine. I get one in every box of Sure-Jell I open.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm going to attempt blackberry jam this fall (I froze the berries to deal with later when the school dust settles). Any advice? Should I try for the jelling-point which seems rather precise and tricky? Should I just use a pectin thing (that's Sure Jell or Dutch gel, right?). I'm accustomed to making freezer jam, but I have a hankering for real berry jam - or jelly - maybe I don't want all the seeds? You see I'm such a novice. Please advise!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Um, maybe look at the instructions inside a packet of Sure-Jell?

      Seriously though, it depends on what you like. I like my jam with seeds, skins, chunks, and all, but that really bothers some people. (Blackberry jam is fabulous, I think.)

      I follow the standard directions pretty closely---using pectin---because I don't want to spend time cooking anything down. Plus, the risk of scorching all that expensive fruit stresses me out.

      But! You might love that meditative process!

      A canning blog that I always refer people to is Food In Jars. Here's her link for blackberry jam: http://www.foodinjars.com/2009/08/blackberry-jam/

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the insight on pectin. I was worried about all that expensive fruit, too, so I think I might go the pectin route. I think I like seeds in my jam and I definitely prefer jam over jelly.

      I love Marisa at Food in Jars! I just got to see her new book (and I got to meet HER at BlogHer!). THanks for the link.

      Delete
  3. Growing up, the only preserving my mom ever did was to make grape jelly. It was soooo good!

    Before moving up here to Minnesota, we (hubby and I) lived in Illinois and had two large grape arbors in our back yard. I made grape jam (skins and all) and we still think about that wonderful jam.

    You've brought back memories with your post . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I remember growing up that my gram made grape jam with the skins! It was wonderful! But I haven't found any recipes that permit this...also, I don't want to use pectin (especially with grapes!), so...if you remember the recipe, would you please share it?
      Thanks!

      Delete
    2. I had an aunt that made grape jam with the skins. I have never seen it commercially made and I no longer have access to this option. Anybody know anybody that commercially makes it with skins? Smuckers makes a sugar-free blueberry that has some skins in it and although good it is not the same as grape with skins.

      Delete
  4. One thousand. Wow. That is quite a milestone in a blogger's life!
    Congratulations on post # 1000, and a big thank you, Jennifer Jo, for posting and keeping this bright corner of the inet lit.
    -Carol S-B

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And thank YOU for reading! My readers are what make this little venture so. much. fun.

      Delete
  5. Okay, now I've got to know. Where do you buy the Dutch Gel? It sounds better than my current sure-jel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I buy mine from Grandma's Pantry on South 11. But check with any bulk foods store.

      Delete
  6. I am surprised that you do not boil the jars after filling them.
    Arleen August 24, 2012 10:30 PM

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love a nice crisp, clear and smooth grape jelly! I'd eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon if I didn't think the kids would catch me:)
    My father in law had oodles of Concord Grapes growing up the lattice work on his back deck. I could collect enough grapes every year to make enough jelly (no jam folk here:)) to last us a year and some extra to pass around. Then.....he sold the house. Luckily I still had some juice in the freezer, and combined that with the wild grapes I found by the creek, and we had jelly for another year. This year...I'm hoping the CSA I work for will offer them in bulk. After having enjoyed homemade grape jelly for the past five years, I can't go back to store bought. And while he's my favorite father-in-law, I've never quite forgave him for selling my gra...I mean, his house!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love a nice crisp, clear and smooth grape jelly! I'd eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon if I didn't think the kids would catch me:)
    My father in law had oodles of Con

    ReplyDelete