Our two grape vines, Marie and Louise, really did a good job, so late in the season! They were by far the best producers of fruit in the homestead gardens!
We got over a pound of good Concord grapes, and since they were a little bitter, well, not really bitter, just not really sweet, we decided they would make great jelly!
We had to add a few other grapes to make enough for the jelly, but it was about 80% our own grapes. Next year, we’ll have plenty! (We hope!)
Now, I’ll show this photo and I have to tell you, it’s the WRONG thing to do for jelly! Apparently, by chopping the grapes in the food processor, we cut some of the skin way tooo small and it ended up giving the jelly a little bit of floaties, which was the skin bits. Nothing worse than seeds in raspberry or strawberry jam, but still, you probably want to just smush them instead.
Once you get all your grapes smashed and ready, a piece of damp cheesecloth over a strainer is a good way to try and keep the skin bits from your juice. You just pour it in, and then let it drip over a bowl for a few hours. Overnight, if you can wait. They say don’t squeeze it… again to keep the skin bits from passing through and clouding the jelly! We couldn’t resist because we needed all the juice we could, so our jelly is a little bit decorated with teeny little floaties of skin! I like to think that it’s a little extra fiber and flavor!
I’m not giving a recipe for this, because it depends on your grapes and all that, how much you have. But there is a great amount of great easy directions on the web and on the boxes of pectin for jams and jellies. We used the recipe on the box of Sure-Gel.
When you have the juice ready, it’s warmed up and then you add in all the sugar. You bring it to a hard boil, one that is hard to stir away. Once you get it boiling hard, then the pectin is added and you cook it for another minute or so. And then ladle into hot jars.
Since we only had enough for one large jar of jelly, we just ladled it in the jar, and put on the lid and sealing ring and sat it on the counter to cool down a bit. About 6 or 7 hours later, it was jelled up nice, and totally cool to the touch, so into the frig it went. Super Easy!
If we were going to do a lot of jelly, we would have done the whole canning bath and sealing and all that. But that’s the fun of it all. You can just make a smaller amount with some great fresh fruit and you’ll have a great jar of homemade jelly for your toast! It’s really easy. And if you make too much, you can always pop it in the freezer! Easy!
We made strawberry jam too…. same thing… mash the fruit, boil it, add sugar, get super hot, add the pectin, ladle into jars and seal up!
Now strawberry jam needs a little lemon juice to help it set right and jam up good. Not much, our recipe only needed 1/4 a cup.
Good measure of sugar to augment the fresh, ripe fruit and you have a boiling mix of super good smelling hot jam in no time.
Don’t be afraid to try making jellies and jams. You can do it just half the way and pop the stuff into the frig or freezer if you’re scared to can, but I gotta tell you, even the canning part is easy. You just follow the steps carefully and calmly, and you end up with treats for your family through the winter that taste so amazing, they are ten times better than any fancy stuff you can buy. And no junk. Just fruit, sugar and a little pectin. EASY. And what is cool, you can make it super chunky or smooth as silk, whatever you want.
The only thing I will be investing in is a pair of good wide mouth funnels! We did make a mess and let me tell you… BOILING HOT JAM is really painful on your skin. It is. Take my word on this. And it just makes a mess when you slop it around. And you waste this wonderful stuff… I kinda like the idea of one of those little magnetic wands that picks up the lids from the boiling water too… (NEAT!) but really, you don’t need a lot to can. And the jars are awesome for just using too, we use them for leftovers, fresh butter, buttermilk, whatever you need to seal and store in the frig or pantry.
It feels so good to be making stuff like this. Every time you crack open a jar of your OWN jam or jelly and make a slice of toast and sink into that just amazing taste… it’s just wonderful. It’s so redemptive, it just makes you think you’ve done something that most people would never even consider trying. And it’s cheap too. I got 4 huge jars of strawberry jam for about $6. I mean huge quart jars! It’s going to go great on toast, over ice cream, maybe even in a cobbler or a crumb cake if I feel like it. Now that is good living right there… strawberry and raspberry jam from local farmer’s market fruit and grape jelly from our OWN grape vines!!! How cool is that?
Go out there and get some fruit and try this. Try just a little bit. Just do it. I think we are getting away so much from handcrafting and creating our own food, wares, crafts and living needs, it’s bad. It’s scary. We can no longer repair our own cars they are so complex, we think no one is allowed to build there own house or create living spaces that are not out of a box from a store and we only buy handcrafted ideas from hippy kooks at art festivals or from some third world import store.
Wake up America! We were founded on people not afraid to get thier hands dirty, to build their own homes, to homestead in the wilds of the west, or grow their own food and make what they needed, not dependant on the local Walmart to exploit our own people and those overseas for cheap junk that we think we need! Handmaking your own foodstuffs, even just a few jars of jam and a loaf of homemade bread once a week, keeps the skills honed and the spirit of true Americanism alive.
It’s time to start making quilts and growing gardens and doing without all the commercialism and debt and technology that is just making us into tech zombies. Kids don’t play outside anymore, they just do video games and online stuff. We hardly even know the neighbors next door after years of living side by side. Something is really wrong.
Make some jam soon… okay? Give it a whirl. What’s the worse that can happen… you’ll mess up some fruit and sugar. The best thing? You’ll discover that you can do something that you never imagined you could and it will taste SO DAMN GOOD, you’ll be looking for something else to try next!
I promise. That’s how I got started!Pin It