Monday, September 19, 2011

Jam Session

J and I recently proved our "city slicker" status. In our backyard is an arbor filled with gorgeous Concord grapes. Just look at them!
Despite the fact that we knew there were grapes in the backyard and the fact that we have a working internet connection (ahem) which is handy for looking up information about Concord grapes, and despite the fact that we both have working taste buds, we touched nary a grape in the year we've been living in this house (which covers two seasons of a delicious grape harvest). I can't exactly explain why we avoided the grapes. I only know that city slicker folks like us think anything without a nutrition label must be suspect.

When a friend pointed out the fact that we had gobs of free organic Concord grapes in our backyard, we even had him taste the grapes for us before we would trust that anything grown on our property was edible. Yes, we're city slicker morons.

Since we've got a boatload of grapes, we decided to start by making some jam with them. I've made jams and jellies before when my mom learned how about 15 or 20 years ago, but it's been that long since the last time I made my way around a Bell canning jar. I was worried that grape jelly is hard to make because you have to skin the grapes and strain the whole schlemiel, but it went pretty well. We had fun de-skinning the grapes:

Then came the part that seemed to take forever. We had to boil and then simmer the grapey goodness with sugar until it got to a thick enough consistency to gel.
I tend to be extreme in one direction or another when cooking--I am either impatient as all hell and create a giant mess or I worry that I'll burn whatever I'm making and proceed at such a cautious pace that nothing is completely cooked. I took door #2 with the grape jelly and ended up standing over the pot for over an hour wielding a wooden spoon (that will never be the same again. Hello, purple!).
And so we ended up with three(ish) jars of grape goo! It's fantastically sweet, as the grapes started out remarkably sweet to begin with and we didn't want to cut any of the sugar because it (theoretically) is what makes the jelly gel. Next time around, we'll use pectin and less sugar.

I've discovered the jelly(ish) is a little too sweet for toast use, but it really livens up a peanut butter and grape liquid sandwich and we're planning on making some (runny) thumbprint cookies.
It is important, however, to note that our resident taster has no complaints.


  1. What a great picture!! Congrats on the successful jam making. :)

  2. more pectin will have it set more solid, if you want...or boiling it longer with some of the skins with natural pectin.