Grape Jelly

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Concord Grape Jelly is not anything I ever gave much thought too.  If you needed or wanted grape jelly you just went to the store and bought some right?  Well, after making this, my mind has been forever changed about that.  I don’t know that I can ever eat grape jelly from the store again.  I tried to eat some that I had in the refrigerator to see if I could actually tell a difference.  Let me tell you, they difference is undeniable.

One of my neighbors, and occasional reader of the blog – Hi Rick! – has been growing Concord grapes in his backyard for a few years.  This is the first year there were enough grapes for the birds and for jelly.

Having never seen or eaten a Concord grape, I was a little taken aback by the texture.  It tasted just like grape jelly, but the skins are tough and you need to pop the insides into your mouth.  The texture is kind of rubbery, but slippery.  I have never eaten a raw oyster, but this is what I suspect a small raw oyster might feel like in your mouth if you tried to chew it instead of swallow it.

He shared with me one his memories he had of his mother making grape jelly.  He shared with me her methods, as best as he could remember.  He didn’t have any recipe either, just a bag full of juicy and sweet Concord grapes.

So, we set about searching the internet for recipes and techniques.  There are so many choices out there!!  We ended up using several recipes and techniques to come up with a general consensus of what was a standard version, used across the ages.  It probably looks similar to hundreds of other grape jelly recipes out there.

This was actually easier to prepare than we anticipated and have plans in the near future to find some strawberries and have a stab at making strawberry preserves and apple pie preserves.  Everyone should give this a try.  Canning is not as hard as you expect it to be.  The only specialty equipment we used was mason jars, lids, and the jar grabber thing, but since I kept using it backwards anyway, we probably could have gotten away with a long pair of tongs.

The jelly did not turn out as dark as the kind from the store, but I suspect they use some GMO version of grapes and perhaps some chemicals we did not use.  The grapes we started with were also not as dark as some, but that did not affect the flavor.

Grape Jelly
8 cups freshly picked Concord grapes, washed
1 1/2 cups water
7 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon butter
1 pack liquid pectin

Remove grapes from stems and place in a large sauce pan.

Wash 8 jelly jars and set aside. Run through the sanitize cycle of your dishwasher if desired.

Add water to a pot large enough to submerge your jars in water. If all the jars won’t fit into your pan, just heat what you can at a time, just remember to move quickly as the jelly will begin to setup.

Heat the water to simmer and add the jars to the pot, without lid.

Add water to a separate small saucepan and set to simmer. Add the lids and rings to this pan.

Heating the jars will prevent breaking when you add the hot jelly to the jars.

Place pan with grapes on stove and add 1 1/2 cups of water.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer until there are no solid grapes left. Using the back of a wooden spoon or a potato smasher speeds this process along. This will take 10 to 20 minutes.

Strain grapes through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, reserving juice. If using a sieve, push the mixture against the mesh with the back of a wooden spoon and move the debris off to the sides to allow liquid to flow through.

Discard skins and seeds.

You should have approximately 4 cups of juice. If not, add enough water to make 4 cups.

Wash out your sauce pan and add the grape juice into the pan, along with 7 cups of white sugar.

Set heat to medium high and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add 1 teaspoon of butter to reduce the amount of foam and continue boiling for about 10 minutes.

Add pectin and boil according to package directions. Ours needed 1 full minute.

Turn off heat and skim off any foam.

Remove jars and lids from simmer pots of water and drain water.

Add jelly to jars using a ladle, being careful not to get any on the outside rims of the jars. If this happens, simply wipe them clean prior to placing on lids.

Once all jelly has been placed into jars, place the lids on the jars with the sealing side down.

Place rings around lids and screw into place firmly.

Once all jars are lidded, add jars back into the large pot of water and bring to a boil.

Continue boiling for 10 to 15 minutes.

Carefully removed jars from the pot and set aside to cool.

The jars will make a popping noise as they cool and draw down the lid.

This may take an hour or it may happen quickly. This batch had some that sealed themselves at 2 minutes and the last one at 45 minutes.

Recipes to Try with Grape Jelly:

Buttermilk Sugar Biscuits

Rustic Crusty Bread

Quick Yeast Rolls

Grape jelly made with Concord grapes is easier than you think. Made with just a few ingredients and is cooked and jarred in under 2 hours.

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