Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is that all there is?

     So you may be wondering what does a farm boy, now living in the city, do to celebrate the arrival of Spring? I couldn't tell you but, I made some wild grape jelly, just finished it, waiting to see if it sets. Do I know how to party on a school night or what?

     Back tracking just a little. My grandmother used to make this when I was little. Yes she made jelly from regular old Concord grapes as well but the wild grapes were kind of a special thing. Why waste them?

     Last fall when I was home I noticed that we have an incredible crop of wild grapes along one of our fence rows. They weren't ripe so my Mom's friend Katie said she would pick them, Mom would freeze them, I'd take them home, make jelly. Share? Maybe.

That's Katie, armed and dangerous
That's my Mom laughing in the back ground
One more reason why you don't mess with the women in my family.

     I finally remembered to actually bring them home, so jelly it is. I don't know if you are familiar with wild grapes, they are about the size of a pearl. I spent four hours cleaning 8 pounds, to end up with 6. If I had a press I could have just done that but with stems, leaves et al attached, they had to be cleaned by hand, Otherwise the juice is ruined. So...

Hands worthy of a slasher flick

For six pounds of these

The extreme close up

     Before you get thinking it was all that difficult, I picked the grapes over while watching television so no real hardship. Grapes into the stock pot with 1/2 cup of water so they don't scorch, bring to a boil, simmer for 30 minutes, mashing the grapes with a potato masher for maximum juice extraction, strain through a cheese cloth and let the pulp sit for at least 2 hours, I let it sit over night, and you have your juice ready for making jelly. That is pretty much the same for any juice extraction if your jelly-ing.

     The juice will keep in the fridge for about a week so I finally got around to making my jelly tonight. I could open the kitchen doors, drift back and forth from the patio, all good. I was going to do this cool science-y thing, showing pectin using acetone (nail polish remover) and some of the juice but I forgot so, sorry.

     I ended up with 6 cups of juice, so a batch and a half of jelly but I was feeling lazy. I don't recommend this but I made it all at once. Because grapes, especially wild ones, are so high in pectin, they are a little more forgiving in changing the quantity of the recipe. So here is the recipe. Equal parts juice and sugar. Very complicated and hard to follow, I know.

Jars all prepared and ready

Ready to go
Stock pot on one burner, canner on the other

Sugar going in

Bubbling away

     Bring the juice to a boil and add the sugar, a cup at a time. Stir until sugar is dissolved each time. Pour into the centre of the pot so you don't end up with sugar stuck to the sides, it can scorch and ruin the taste.
Bring it back to a full rolling boil, one you can't stir down. Bring it to the gel point, 220 degrees in the US, about 104 here in Canada. Ya, we measure temperature differently. Handy to know when your reading recipes. If you bring your jams and jellies to eight degrees above the boiling point here in Canada you end up with fruit gummies not what you were trying for. Any how...

     Once you hit the gel point, skim off any foam and ladle into your prepared jars, top with sterile lids, tighten the bands and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Now comes the hard part, waiting.

     When you make jelly, as opposed to jam, it is a bit like manscaping. You have to take it on faith, you can't really see if the jelly is done and will set. Making jam, you can see and feel the change and have a pretty good idea if it's ready, jelly, not so.

     So here I am, waiting for the jelly to cool (and set) and see if all my efforts were worthwhile.

Seven little jars of goodness.
I hope.

     I know what you're all thinking.

Just for you Mark
Hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised tomorrow morning and it will all be worth while


  1. I have to be honest, I didn't know there was such a thing as "wild" grapes. But either way, it looks yummy. Something about grape jelly - it's a comfort food.

    1. For just about everything we've tamed there is some thing wild, blueberries, black berries(my #1 fave) strawberries. tiny with a big punch of taste.
      If you like grape jelly, nothing, and I mean nothing comes evven close to making it at home. I have no idea why it's so different but the home made stuff rocks.

  2. Really doesn't look too hard...maybe just a little time consuming. So, how did it turn out? Delicious?

    1. Making jelly is pretty easy, but time consuming. On the plus side a lot of the prep can be done in front of the television. Getting the juice also doesn't require a lot of effort, bring to a boil then reduce heat. No need to stand over the stove.
      I like it, a little sweet but not really any options there. Delicious with Sunday breakfast. I also gave out some to collegues to see what they think. I really did share.


Thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoyed your time in the "Kitchen".