Surprise yourself. Mix red, blue, black grapes with lighter colors and develop your own special jelly. Wine grapes are delicious fresh. When I was a kid, working at a fruit and produce company that catered to the European ethnic populations of Italy, Lithuania, and Poland, we sold wine grapes for wine-making. I loved sneaking some and eating them fresh - delicious!
It follows that if you want some special jelly, use wine grapes!
sure-gel low sugar pectin
cheesecloth or a jelly bag
half pint jars
1. Grow some wine grapes. Once ripe, clean of stems and remove any fruit that has gone too ripe.
2. Put the good grapes in a colander and rinse them thoroughly.
3. Transfer the grapes to a pot and add water just to cover them. Simmer the grapes for about an hour. (Lust after steam while they cook.)
4. Drain this mixture through a jelly bag or cheesecloth. The resulting grape juice can be left in the fridge for jelly making on another day or frozen for projects later in the winter.
5. To make the jelly: follow the instructions for grape jelly from the sure-gel low sugar pectin box, but add 2 oz. of lemon juice for each batch. (Just stir it in at the beginning). Water-bath can according to the instructions in the pectin box.
Try this variation (from THE TROIKA TABLE )
Gingery Grape Jam
- 7 cups grape juice/puree mixture (see explanation above – it is really more of a thick juice than a puree)
- 2/3 cup lemon juice (bottled juice is fine for this)
- A big chunk of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced or finely grated (I had about 2/3 cup when the slices were pressed down into a cup; it made a very gingery jam, so use less if you want a milder ginger flavor)
- 7 cups sugar
- 1 package Sure Jell Pectin (I’m sure any brand will work, but the jam recipes I found online seemed to vary the quantity of fruit somewhat, depending on the pectin brand)
Put the grape puree into a large pot – I would go with stainless steel rather than aluminum, and the one I used will hold 6 quarts. Place the ginger slices in a blender with the lemon juice and a cup of the grape juice and process until the ginger is chopped into tiny little particles, or you can grate the ginger instead (we’re all about power tools around here). Pour the ginger/juice into the jam pot. Measure the sugar into a separate bowl, stir in the pectin, then stir the sugar mixture into the fruit (I don’t recommend simply measuring the sugar straight into the fruit cup by cup, because it is too easy to lose count).
Stir over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then you can increase the heat some and stir occasionally until it comes to a full rolling boil that you cannot stir down. While the juice mixture is heating, get the water going for the boiling water bath.
The pectin package recipe says to boil the fruit mixture exactly one minute, and the Grape Preserve recipe I found says exactly two minutes, but I probably let it boil hard for 3-4 minutes. I don’t have a reason based on deep insights into kitchen chemistry and physics, but it just seemed right, and it worked.
Carefully ladle the mixture into hot jars, leaving about ½ inch head space at the top of the jar (I bought a jar funnel this summer and it greatly simplified jar-filling). Wipe the jar rims with a damp paper towel and tighten the lids, using a folded paper towel to protect your hand from the hot jar. Carefully lower the jars into the boiling water, cover, and process for 5 minutes – a jar lifter is another really handy little tool. At the end of the processing time, set the jars on a folded towel to cool, and soon you will hear that rewarding pop, pop, pop of the jars sealing.
Yield: four 230 ml. (approximately ½ pint) and four 440 ml. (not quite a pint) jars, plus another cup or so that I poured directly into a little jelly bowl and refrigerated.
One last tip – if you live in a hard-water area like I do, the jars might be covered with mineral deposits. After the water in the canner cools, pour in a half-cup or so of any kind of cheap vinegar and dip the jars in for a minute. Rinse and dry, and they will be nice and clear.