So, grape jelly.
This is one of those cases where using the recipe in the box is just fine. In general I have no complaints about sugar, but for jelly I want to taste the fruit, so I went with a low sugar pectin from Ball. This recipe could more accurately be called ‘lower sugar’, because there’s still quite a bit, but the grapes are not overpowered and that’s what I was going for.
5 1/2 cups grape juice
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 box low or no-sugar-needed pectin
Prep 6 half-pint jars.
Mix pectin with 1/4 cup of the sugar.
Combine pectin and juice in a large pot, along with a small bit of butter. (The butter will keep everything from foaming too much. I skip this step when making jam, but it really helps to make a nice, clear jelly.)
Bring to a boil.
When you can’t stir the boil down, add the rest of the sugar.
Bring back to a boil, and when you can’t stir it down cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat.
Skim any foam.
Ladle into jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.
Process 5 minutes in water bath.
Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars.
Just when I’d accepted I wouldn’t be making grape jelly this year, a neighbor I’ve never met stopped by and asked if I’d like to pick some of her grapes.
She’s at the peak of a bumper crop of Concords, growing on a vine she dates to the early 1900’s. Since she has lived in her house and tended her garden for 65 years (!), I’m going to take her word for it.
We picked and picked and didn’t make a bit of a dent, and then I came home and used my steam juicer to process the piles of grapes. The steam juicer is a fabulous invention. It’s pricey, so not worth it if you don’t process a lot of fruit, but if you do it saves a lot of time and effort. I can remember my parents making grape jelly when I was a kid, juice straining through cheesecloth, making a purple mess of everything nearby. I can’t say it inspired me to want to make any of my own. The juicer, in contrast, is neat and easy to use. It consists of three pots on top of each other. The bottom holds water, the middle juice, and the top whatever fruit you’re processing. As it steams, the juice flows through a tube from the second pot into whatever vessel you choose, or, if you’d rather, the tube can be clamped and the juice will remain in the pot. More fruit can be added as it shrinks down, so I was able to fit all of my grapes in the one pot. The only thing to watch out for is that you don’t run out of water in the bottom pot.
Now I’m ready to start making jelly with some of the 10+ quarts of juice the grapes yielded. The rest I’ll can for drinking, if it doesn’t all disappear from the fridge before I get to it.