This year, however, has been a very good year for grapes. So good, that I thought I might have enough to make a small batch of jelly. So I picked, washed, and sorted them. I figured if I didn't end up with enough juice to make jelly with, we'd at least enjoy some 'organic' homegrown grape juice.
not quite half of my grapes
After washing and sorting out the tart unripe ones, I got out my trusty Ball Blue Book and looked up what was needed to make grape jelly.
Grapes for juicing. Check
OK! Here we go! First, I needed to cook the grapes and extract the juice. How much juice I ended up with would determine if I could continue on to making jelly, or if we were just going to drink some really fresh grape juice.
The grapes were mashed, measured, and put into a sauce pan with a little bit of water (1/2 cup per quart of squished grapes). Then they were simmered on low for a little while.
ready to cook
After they had cooked for the designated amount of time, which was really not very long, only 10 or 15 minutes, I lined my fruit/veggie strainer with a couple of layers of cheese cloth and dumped in the grape mush. That strained for at least a half an hour until all that was left in the strainer was pulp. At that point, I carefully lifted the cheesecloth, twisted it shut, and proceeded to squeeze out any remaining juice by hand. Which was probably a little short sighted of me.
Yes, my hands were rather purple. It looked kind of entertaining at first, like the girl in Willy Wonka who turns into a blueberry. However, by the next morning (for church, of course), my hands looked more like they'd been run over by a bus: kind of a mottled purply gray bruised mess. Not the first time I'd gone to church with my hands stained by something or other.
Anyway. . . at this point the directions in my Blue Book said to let the grape juice sit in the fridge for 12-24 hours before proceeding on. So, I did. I poured it into a clean quart canning jar, put a lid on it, and stuck it in the fridge until after church the next day.
When it was time to continue on with the jelly making, because, amazingly, I had been able to extract the exact amount of juice that the small batch recipe called for!!, I poured the juice into one of the pots I typically use when I'm making jams.
From there, it was a typical jam recipe: add pectin, heat to a boil, add sugar, heat back to a rolling boil, time if necessary, and pour into jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Water bath for the directed time, and voila, jelly!
juice and pectin in the pot, ready to heat
stirring in the sugar
This batch of grape jelly has been a long time coming. Hopefully there will be many more batches in the future. Because it turned out delicious, if I do say so myself (yes, I couldn't resist tasting it. Made a very yummy pb & j for lunch on Monday.)