As American as Concord Grape Jelly

When it comes to all American fruit there are only 3 fruits native to North America- cranberries, blueberries and concord grapes. So what could be more American than Concord grape jelly? This is the time of year when they are abundant in our backyards and at  farm markets. A friend asked me recently what he might do with harvest of Concord grapes in his front yard. I suggested making grape jelly. Home made grape jelly is so much more than anything you can find at the super market.

To make the jelly, any jelly really, you need juice.

To make grape juice: Wash, stem and crush the grapes. For every gallon of crushed grapes add 1 cup of water. Cook over medium to medium low heat until fruit is very soft. Don’t bring this mixture to a boil. It will cause crystals to form in the juice. Place juice in a dampened jelly bag to drain or in a strainer lined with several layers of food-grade cheesecloth. Don’t press down on the fruit or you will force solids through the bag and you’ll cloud the juice. Once juice is finished draining you can chill it to make jelly within a day or two. Juice should be chilled at least 12 hours. Strain again before using in case tartrate crystals have formed.

To make grape jelly:

4 cups Concord grape juice- from about 3-4 pounds of grapes

3 cups sugar

Combine juice and sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly until jelly reaches the gel point  or until jelly sheets off the spoon.* Remove from heat and skim off foam, if needed.** Ladle hot jelly into clean jelly jars leaving 1/4 -inch head space. wipe rims and cover with 2 piece lids. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 4 half-pint jars.



*OK- I know some of you are thinking, “What?”  Well, you dip a cool metal spoon in the jelly and lift it out then tip the spoon and watch the jelly as it pours off the spoon. At first the jelly will just pour off but as it gets closer to the gel state it will start to pour off the spoon in more of a sheet- like a little ( OK very little) jelly waterfall. You can also tip the spoon and watch for 2 drops of jelly to come together and drip off the spoon as one big drop.  You can also put a small amount of the jelly onto a chilled plate. Place plate in freezer until jelly cools down to room temp. Run your finger through it. It should separate then slowly come back together. If this is making you crazy just buy a box of pectin and follow the directions for grape jelly. It will gel just fine with pectin.

** To reduce the amount of foam you can add 1 teaspoon of butter to the juice right at the beginning of the cooking process . It will reduce or completely eliminate the need to skim off foam.

Hope this helps, Jared.



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