Concord grapes are a special fall-time treat. This is the first year ever the vine in my backyard yielded an appetizing looking crop, so I gave jam making a go. You probably don’t want to eat this kind of grape raw- they are not very sweet, have seeds, and the texture may -ahem- not suit you. My first batch of jam came out tasty, but it wasn’t until the second batch, the one I will share with you today, that I feel I got some amazingly delicious results. My vine didn’t give me enough grapes for a second batch, I think it’s given up for the season, so I gave Wildwood Market in Fountain Square a call and sure enough, they had the goods. If you haven’t checked them out yet, they’ll soon become your go-to spot for seasonal and local foods.
My vine at home. For some reason, they like to go from looking beautiful but green (left) to shriveled and dead (right) without warning.
And then there’s THESE beauties. These are so jam-able. When they’re sun-ripened they smell absolutely amazing, like the grapey-est grape you can imagine. Like grape soda, like grape skittles. But without the corn syrup.
I used about 3 pounds of grapes, which I think is a manageable amount and I’ll base this recipe and process off of that quantity.
First give your grapes a good rinse. Grab a bowl and the bowl to your food processor (or mixer). Then, SQUEEZE! That’s right. Just give these grapes a little squeeze and the inside pops right out like a slippery little eyeball. Throw the skins in the processor and the insides and juices into the bowl. This is the perfect job for little hands, too! The more help the merrier; this took me and a couple helpers about 30 minutes to finish.
Blend all the skins in the food processor with 1 cup of sugar until liquid. Then, get your finger and taste this amazing, bright, incredibly delicious concoction and you will have no doubt all that time you just spent skinning grapes was not in vein.
Add the mixture and peeled grapes to a pot and bring it up to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Try not to let any escape.
Science: grapes do not contain a large amount of natural pectin, which is the traditional jelling agent for jellies. You can buy store bought pectin, but I was suspicious of this notion and with a little internet (read: highly reliable) research I was confirmed. The great thing is, you totally don’t need it. Apples just so happen to have a lot of natural pectin, so I chopped one up in the processor and added it to the pot. It worked perfectly. Also add one tablespoon of lemon juice and another cup of sugar. I know, that sounds like a lot of sugar. If I make this again I would try using honey instead. The first time I made it I used just one cup of sugar and I have to admit it was a bit tangy and this second batch turned out much tastier.
After simmering for about 20 minutes, strain everything into a bowl. You’ll have to spend some time moving it around and pushing it through with a spatula. When you’ve had about enough of that, pour the strained liquid back into the pot and continue simmering.
So here’s a funny little trick. Stick a plate in the freezer and let it get nice and cold. To determine if your jam has jammed, drop a little dot onto the cold plate, replace it in the freezer, and wait one minute. When you slide your finger across it, it should feel rubbery and have a bit of a film on it. On the left you can see that it’s not ready. The photo on the right is how it looked when I decided it was ready. Its nice and thick and built up on my finger. This took about 30 minutes of simmering after the straining.
Pour the liquid into jars and refrigerate overnight. I’m not going through the canning process with these, so they will need to stay in the fridge at all times. I’ve had mine in the fridge several weeks and it’s still delicious.
You can see the beautiful texture I achieved (ribbon please) using just the apple. This stuff tastes absolutely amazing! In fact you might like it so much you’ll start making PB&J’s again and feel the need to get yourself some jam-swag. You’ve come to the right blog. Please peruse the jam-flavored handmade items available at Homespun, and don’t forget to tag us in your jam-making adventures @homespunindy!
Jam locally jammed by Home Ec., PB&J earrings by Rachel O’s Fabulous Whimsy, letterpressed canning labels by Red Bird Ink, and little jar of jam (or juice) by Cordial Kitten. Lastly, there’s a recipe for blackberry jam in the book Apartment Gardening by Amy Pennington which is chuck full of useful stuff.