Grapes, grapes, grapes everywhere!!! What to do??? I decided to do what everyone else does, make some grape jelly! Most people associate grape jelly with Concord Grapes. While, commercial grape production dates back to the year 1000 B.C., it was not until 1854 that the Concord variety made its debut, appropriately named after the Massachusetts village of Concord where the first of its variety was grown. The Concord grape is a robust and aromatic grape whose ancestors were wild native species found growing in the rugged New England soil.
I don’t know anyone that hates jelly – well, I take that back – (Love you Helen!) So I decided I would try to make some grape jelly.
Here is the recipe I used:
I juiced the grapes until I had 5 cups of grape juice
6 !/2 cups of sugar
1 box pectin
A couple splashes of lemon juice
half a pat of butter
Put the juice, pectin and butter into a pot and bring to a boil. When the mixture comes to a violent boil, one that cannot be stirred away – add all the sugar at once. Bring back to a violent boil and boil for 1 minute. (This step is very very important!) After 1 minute – take off of the heat and scrape off any foam with a spoon Place in hot jars, put on lids and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.
Malice, I hear you saying to yourself – “What the heck is Pectin?” Pectin is naturally occurring carbohydrate found in fruit. Most of the commercial pectin comes from apples. When you dissolve it in boiling liquid and let cool; it forms invisible strands that hold liquid in. When you add an acid, such as lemon juice, it helps it draw out even more pectin from whatever fruit you are trying to turn into jelly or jam. Sugar also plays its part. Sugar attracts water out of the fruit – hence all of the fruit juice you get when you sprinkle sugar on fruit. When the water is drawn out of the fruit, it leave the pectin molecules to bind with the fruit and set the jelly or jam. Plus, sugar is what makes jams and jellies taste so good! Science!
After about an hour, I noticed that it was not setting. You really should let it sit for 24 hours before you check it – but I’m impatient! Bring on the noms! I decided to re-process it. Big Mistake! After emptying all of my jars, I added another box of pectin. Again, Big Mistake! When you add more pectin, you are supposed to bring it to a boil for 1 more minute. 1 minute only! Again, very very important!!
Now, why did I say that the 1 minute is so important?? Well, because if you find yourself engrossed in reading the pectin box and ALL included recipes, like I did, you might forget how long a minute is and boil it for like… oh.. 10 minutes! To my defense, they were very interesting!
“It’s ok Dean, Maybe it won’t be so bad,” i say to myself as I am spooning the jelly like substance into my jars.. Yes, I talk to Dean in my head, what’s wrong with that?
Oh yeah, its setting alright. Setting into grape flavored bricks! Well, more round jelly jar shaped bricks. Anyway, I thought I would let it sit overnight and see what happens in the morning. Nothing had improved by morning. I still had my jelly jar bricks of grape flavored goodness and wasn’t sure where to go from there. Surely there must be some way to fix this but I soon found out – you can’t “uncook” anything.
Immediately I turn to the trusted good ole Internet. My fingers fly to the search bar as thoughts of “What do I do??” fly through my head. Some pages suggest adding a little water to it. First off, who are these people who got this to work? My grape bricks were not having any of that and I just ended up with a purple sticky watery mess with lumps of even stickier stuff floating around in it. No, this is not the solution I was looking for.
Back to the internet, one page suggested making candy out of the hard jelly. Hmmmm, I thought as I shrugged. Grabbing two spoons, (one to get the stuff out of the jar, and the
other to push it off of one spoon into the sugar) I dredged some of it out and rolled the grapey glob in sugar. It felt like jelly candy – not gummy candy – old school jelly candy. After squishing it a bit just because it was fun, I popped it into my mouth. Oh Wow! Grape explosion!! It was chewy but not too chewy and it was delicious! Problem solved!
I still have some more grapes to process. I am going to try and make jelly once more. We will see how it goes!
Remember kiddies, just because something doesn’t turn out like it is supposed to – doesn’t mean that it’s ruined. Sometimes something beautifully delicious can come from a sticky brick in the shape of a jelly jar.
Now I just have to figure out how I can do it again with prickly pears!