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Grape Jelly

Everything seems to be early around here this year. I’m going to be up to my knees in grapes today.  Apparently, I didn’t water enough, or one errant chicken ate nearly all my grapes. A neighbor offered to let me pick hers since she doesn’t use them anymore. . . about half of what she has amounts to more than 40 pounds so look for a few grape recipes in the next few days. This is reposted from last year and will be the first recipe in the grape series!

Last year I cut my grapes back and didn’t get a single grape.  I’m not a grape expert, so I looked online for information and pruned accordingly — but maybe,  too much. This year, with many fewer vines, even after the chickens browsed I had enough grapes to make jelly.

This is the grape jelly featured in Canning: When Your Jelly Doesn’t Jell.

1. Harvest 6-7 pounds of grapes.  Wash and remove stems.  Place in a stockpot with 3 cups of water.  Crush (I used a wine bottle for that, seemed fitting, although I had images of Lucille Ball stomping the babies in her bare feet) and simmer for 15 – 30 minutes.

2. Drip in a jelly bag overnight.  I’m not overly fond of jelly bags, so if you don’t have one, don’t go out and buy one.  You can line a colander or sieve with cheesecloth and let it drip overnight.  Don’t press the juice through, or squeeze the jelly bag or your jelly will be grainy and cloudy.

3.  After dripping I had 8 cups of juice.  I added 3/4 cup of lemon juice and 3 cups of sugar.  You can easily go to 4 cups of sugar and still get a lower sugar product.  Since you don’t know how much juice you will extract, and your grapes may yield differently than mine, go with 1/2 -2/3 cup of sugar per cup of juice.  If you’re using a commercial product such as Pomona Pectin,  you can add concentrated white or purple grape juice for most if not all of your sweetener, and then have technically, a sugar-free product.

4. Heat grape juice, lemon juice and sugar until sheeting.  (Make sure it’s sheeting . . .) and then ladle into hot jars, seal and process in water bath for 5 minutes at sea level, 10 minutes at 5000 feet.  Mine made 10 half pints the first time around, and 8 1/2 when I rebatched it.

5. Because I have grape leaves, I like to decorate my jars like so:

After a few days the leaves will start to dry out and begin to turn brown:

After a few weeks they will be a lovely brown color.  And brittle, so be sure not to bump them around.  This recipe makes a more tart jelly.  If you like yours sweeter, add that last cup of sugar.  It’s not like you’re going to eat the whole jar at once . . . or are you . . . it’s so good, you just might!

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