Continuing our Grape Week, yes, believe it or not, making homemade jam is easy-peasy, no kidding. And the results? Can I get an A.MAAAZE.INGG!!?!? Watch out Smuckers, you got some competition under this roof. And, believe me, you can do this, too!!!
You can say farming is in our blood. I know those of you who know us are laughing right now so let me re-phrase: Super Hubby and I come from a long line of farming ancestors, to which the gene had long since left our parents' DNA composition. My side concentrated mainly on livestock in the old country, but Super Hubby's line concentrated in fruit, primarily apples and Concord grapes. Super Hubby's great-grandfather starting growing grapes way back in 1919 near the Eastern Lake Erie shores in Pennsylvania. He even helped found the National Grape Cooperative Association in 1945. Super Hubby's family supplied their tasty Concord grapes to Welch's for juicing and other products. And all that clean-air living and grape eating contributed, I'm sure, to Super Hubby's Great-Grandma Flossie living to be just days shy of 107 years old. Now, if that isn't incentive enough to try today's recipe, then I don't know what is?
The following recipe was inspired by Epicurious.
|Want more yield? Use smaller jars.|
5 pounds of stemmed Concord grapes (taken off the stem)
5 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
12 ounce jelly jars with bands and sealing lids (will yield 3-1/2 jars)
Deep pot fitted with a rack that fits inside
Food mill with coarse and find discs (more on purchasing a food mill later)
Chill 2 small plates in a freezer to start
On Purchasing a Food Mill
Eons ago I purchased a food mill from, now defunct, Linens & Things. I needed it for some apple squash soup recipe. In getting ready to make the Concord Grape Jam, I looked high and low for that food mill and came up empty. Where it is, I just don't know? I do know I bought the cheapest one I could find (some run as high as $500 but this was only $30) and I have a faint memory of getting frustrated enough with it that I may have thrown it away - not sure? So, I did some online research and found one by OXO. Not the cheapest but great reviews and so I purchased my second food mill from Bed, Bath, and Beyond for only $40, after using the 20% off coupon. C'est la vie (food mills are very French)!
Do You Really Need One?
Yes, yes, and yes! If you want this jam recipe to be easy, yes!, purchase a food mill. A food processor and blender cannot separate out the skins and seeds from the grapes the way a food mill can. Save yourself a lot of headache and just go out and buy one. Heck, remember I already bought two in a lifetime. 'Nuf said.
Don't buy the cheapest one they have. I bought this OXO Food Mill and was impressed with all the little details OXO is known for in their designs and actually enjoyed the process. It wasn't messy at all and did the job with ease.
What You'll Do
Wash those Concord Grapes well. Lay them out on a table outside and just hose them down. Separate the grape from the stem until the grapes weigh 5 pounds.
|Slip the skins from the grapes into two separate bowls.|
|In food processor, blend 1 cup sugar, grape skins and lemon juice until smooth.|
|Add remaining 4 cups of sugar and skinned grapes to mixture and bring to a boil over moderate heat until pulp breaks down, about 20 minutes. Skim the foam that collects at the top.|
|Attach the coarse disc to your food mill first, then run the mixture a second time using the fine disc. This will make for very smooth jam.|
|Place a large bowl underneath the food mill to catch the soon-to-be jam.|
|Discard the solids or put in composter.|
Place smooth mixture back in the pot and on the stove and bring to a slow boil. Be sure to scoop up all the foam that tends to form at the top. Mixture will thicken so stir often to prevent scorching. Slow boil for 35 minutes then test for doneness.
What You Need to Know to Finish
You'll have to test your jam for doneness, ensuring it isn't too runny. To do this take out one plate from your freezer that you chilled at the beginning of this adventure. Spoon on a teaspoonful of jam onto the plate and wait one minute. Tip the plate. If the jam runs, it is not done and boil for another 10 minutes. Afterwards, take the other chilled plate and test again. The mound of jam should not run when the plate is tipped after solidifying for 1 minute. If still not ready, boil for another 5 - 10 minutes, but do not exceed 25 minutes total of extra boil time.
Now, you are ready for canning. Drain hot jars by inverting them onto a clean kitchen towel for 1 minute. Using a funnel, ladle jam into each jar, leaving a 1/4 inch gap at the top. Wipe down the rim with a damp cloth and top with lids. Screw on the band tightly. When all jars are filled, place them onto the rack in the pot with clean water, with water 2 inches above top of jar, and bring to a boil. Cover, then boil covered for 10 minutes. Using tongs and oven mitts, remove from water and set aside on a kitchen towel to cool.
Jars need to cool and seal for at least 12 to 24 hours. If sealed properly, the lid should be concave (you won't always hear the "ping" sound when the jar seals). Once done, press lid of jar down to ensure proper seal. Put any jars not sealed properly into the refrigerator and use those first.
Those sealed properly can keep up to 5 months in a dark, cool place.