Summer 2013 harvest: Grape jelly

grape jelly 1

First step:  cut down the bunches of grapes and toss them into the galvanized metal bin.

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Second step:  Fill the bin with water to wash the grapes, then find a willing child to stomp them (dog is optional 🙂

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Third step:  Put the mashed grapes (skins, seeds, stems, and all) in a large pot on the stove, fill with water to just cover the grapes, then bring to a full boil.  Turn down the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Note that this step is really important – for some reason, if you squeeze the juice out first and just boil the juice (without the skins), you get grape juice but it will never set up as jelly, no matter how much pectin you throw in.  I know this from hard-earned experience in prior years!

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The grape juice after the grapes (skins, stems, seeds, etc) have been cooked and squeezed through cheesecloth

Fourth step:  Strain the juice out – I tried buying a strainer specifically for this purpose, but it was so incredibly slow that I gave up and just used cheesecloth.  In batches, put the grape matter into the cheesecloth, then squeeze until you extract all the juice, and dispose of the rest in the compost.  Directions I’ve read say that squeezing will make your juice (and, as a result, your jelly) cloudy, but I couldn’t tell any difference between the juice I collected by letting it naturally drain, and the juice I collected from squeezing through the cheesecloth.

Fifth step:  Measure 8 cups of juice into a large pot; heat on stove, then add 8 tlb of low sugar / no sugar pectin.  I also added a tablespoon of butter, and had no problem with foaming.  Bring pot to boil, stirring constantly.  Add 1 1/2 – 2 cups sugar.  Bring back to a rolling boil, then boil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Turn off the heat and dip in a metal spoon; let a little liquid sit on the spoon for 5-10 minutes to see if it’s setting up at all.  If not, try adding more pectin and bringing it back to boil again.

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Sixth step:  Ladle grape liquid into hot jars, put on lids and rims, and put into a hot bath canner for 5-10 minutes.

It may seem like it’s not going to set up at first – my experience is that even after hot bath canning, I have to wait until the jelly cools to see if it’s going to change from liquid to a gelled consistency. 

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