Monday, October 22, 2012
It's that time of the year...when the concord grapes ripen up and the intoxicating aroma at the market entices me to want to make grape jelly. I haven't made homemade grape jelly in many years. I remember the crazy mess that my sister and I made with the huge pile of grapes she bought to make jelly with. Neither one of us had ever done it before so it was quite an experience. This year, I was determined to make homemade jelly again. And like my sister did years ago, I got carried away with buying grapes. Really, a half bushel didn't seem like a huge amount - until I started weighing them out and cooking them. After weighing a batch and picking out all the stems and stuff - into the pot they go - then get smooshed up and cooked down.
Looks kind of weird at this point, but as they cook the house starts to smell awfully good. The next fun part is straining out the juice from the pulp and seeds and skins. I just lined a sieve with cheesecloth for this. Amazing how difficult it is to find cheesecloth too. It's a bit tricky here - don't want any of the seeds and stuff to get into the juice and this stuff is boiling hot. After squeezing out the cheesecloth (beware, you WILL have bluish purple hands after this!) it's on to the next batch.
This is where you question the wisdom of buying a half bushel of concord grapes. After all the grapes are cooked - it's time to make jelly! This required lots of jars, sugar, Sure-Jell and another decent sized mess. After about 4 or 5 batches I got really tired of the mess and decided to freeze the leftover grape juice. However, I did end up with at least 3 dozen jars of awesomely tasty grape jelly. It's so much better than the store bought stuff that it's worth it in the long run.
Oh, and if you're going to do a lot of this - get yourself a nice canning pot and supplies - it makes canning jars of jelly much easier. Everyone's getting homemade goodies this year for Christmas!