Cooking for two is boring -- I want to cook for the entire blogosphere!

Thursday, March 14

Concord Grape Jam in Nine Steps

This fall, we bought a house. With grape vines. Behold the bounty:
Now imagine about five more bowls like this and you'll get a sense of what we harvested in October. What to do with so many grapes? I'd made concord grape sorbet two years earlier, and it had sat in the freezer for months untouched. The easiest choice seemed jam.

I've never made jam before, but the internet seemed the best place to start. Reviewing other people's recipes, I came across one that didn't involve too many additives and seemed simple, though a relative "process" to complete. Step one, wash grapes and remove from stems. Step two, skip-skin each grape individually (!). Try not to turn your hands too purple. Step three, cook down the pulp. Step four, mash the cooked pulp through a fine-mesh strainer. Almost lose patience. Wish for less-fine-mesh strainer. Regain composure. Step five, cook strained mashed pulp together with skins and some water and a bunch of sugar. I also add a grated apple or two and some lemon juice. Cook cook cook. Cook until it's very thick and jammy. Step six, canning process. Step seven, try to scrub blue stain from cast iron Dutch oven and fail. Step eight, give jam away to everybody for Christmas. Step nine, eat homemade freakin delicious jam for the next year.

I made another version with added pectin and ginger that wasn't as good as this way.

I'd also recommend using grapes that aren't overly ripe; I think they lose pectin and texture and the resulting jam is a little musty, almost grainy.

Since it's spring now, I clipped back the vines the way they showed me on YouTube. Next year's crop should be a little bit less fruitful, but 12-foot grape vines won't be growing into my cherry tree, and the resulting grapes should be beautiful. And I already have a new recipe I want to try -- a play on lemon bars.

It's good to have a yard.