First, go pick some Concord grapes. If you live anywhere in or near the northeastern US, it will be no problem finding a vineyard. The rest of you should think about making Cactus Jelly. Or moving.
The reason you need to pick your own is so you can include unripe fruit. See the red ones and the tiny green one? They are full of naturally occurring pectin, which disappears as fruit ripens.
Unnaturally occurring pectin comes in a bottle next to the Ball Jars. I don't want to scare you but to make it, the galacturonic acid is esterified with methanol. I am not making that up.
Pectin turns juice to jelly if you are lucky, and follow the J of C instructions, the words of which I am changing so as not to invite a copyright issue. So, throw them in the sink for a quick rinse.
Next, take them off the stems. You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned quantity. That is why I love this recipe. You measure later
I picked 12 pounds of grapes, gave some away, saved some, ate some. Probably, 6- 8 lbs here. Put them in a big pot and smash some so there is juice on the bottom. Cook over medium heat until soft.
Don't let it burn! Just kidding, you're on top of this. That would never happen. As it gets hot, the skins will slip off.
When it looks like this, you are read for the jelly bag! Yes jelly bag. It is the key to clear juice and later, jelly. No short cuts now. Follow me and you will have State Fair -worthy product.
Doesn't your kitchen smell heavenly? You'll need a strainer, bowl, cheese cloth, broom and 2 chairs. And string
I hope yours fits better than this.
Use about 4 or 6 thicknesses of cheesecloth. Rinse and wring it out and line the strainer with it. Make sure it's big enough- soon, you will pick it up by the corners and tie it with string.
It's hot, so be careful pouring the grapes into the strainer. Under no circumstances can you press, squeeze or otherwise annoy these grapes. That makes for CLOUDY jelly which will embarrass both of us
And we want none of that. So, put down that spoon and wait patiently. Most of the juice will drain here, but all the cool kids hang a jelly bag, so you will too.
Get a long piece of string and tie it around the corners
You should've set up the chair/ broom thing first. It seems tricky, but I got the bag and bowl over there and tied it up by myself and you can too. An hour of this will do.
If you spill this, it will never come out and no one will ever buy your house because they'll think there was a murder in your kitchen. They won't believe the grape jelly story.
Now we measure. For every cup of juice, you will add 1 1/2 cups of sugar. But not yet! No skimping on sugar- the recipe won't work without the full amount. You'll see.
Do some math and figure out how many jars you'll need.
I put newspaper on the counter and cover with paper towels. You should probably cover more counter. This part makes a mess.
Get a big pot of water boiling before you start with the juice. Once the jelly is ready, you'll want to get it into hot jars quickly. Oh, you'll need tongs.
I pour jelly into jars with a coffee cup. This one is extra handy because it has the periodic table of elements on it. Not for jelly, of course. Crossword puzzles.
Put the juice in a large pot and bring to a rolling boil. You can remove anything scum- like, but don't take too long.
This is scum- like stuff. Most will disappear when you add the sugar. And it's not actual scum.
You don't want it to boil any longer than the rolling boil- flavor will get away! So, take it off the heat and stir in the sugar.
Back on the stove, stir until completely dissolved. It takes a few minutes. Be sure to get to the bottom of the pot
Keep stirring. This is undissolved sugar.
This is ready. Turn off the heat.
I'm sure Snapguide's lawyers would agree that the next part is a terrible idea and that you should never use this method to make jelly or preserves of any sort. But it's how I do it.
Boil the jars for 2 minutes.
Boil the lids and rings for 1 minute.
Work quickly and use the tongs to drain jars and rings on paper towels. After a second, turn the jars over and fill to the inside rim with jelly. Make sure there's no jelly on the top.
See those bubbles on the surface? You can pop them with a clean toothpick. Not mandatory, though.
You can clean the jars with a paper towel you dipped in the boiling water. Put on the lids and rims and turn the rim until tight. Then loosen a bit. No idea why- my mother does it this way.
While you are filling, you will notice that you have a jelling thing going on here. If it doesn't look like this, you will hereafter call it sauce. That is my father's method.
After filling, sealing the jars, let them cool completely on the counter. Unstacked. If you did it right, you'll hear pops. Don't know why. When cool, I store them this way.
When yours are completely cool, store them this way.
Of course, you knew where this was going. Get out that Fabulous Bread you make every week and slather on the Jif and the best Grape Jelly ever. Potato chips would be nice. Enjoy your lunch.
- Concord grapes
- White sugar
- Ball jars and lids
- 2.0 Chairs
Gates Mills, Ohio