Grape Expectations

A few years back, a friend of ours who works in horticulture at UMaine gave us two grape vines whose variety we promptly forgot. We do know this: They're Canadian, the fruit tastes just like Concord grapes, and they're more prolific than Stephen King.

We picked them this weekend before the birds got to them, but what does one do with that many grapes? We all know that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. But when life hands you grapes, make jelly. Really, really good jelly.

Don't take our word for it, though. Try making some yourself. Pick up some canning supplies (you can read about our favorite suppliers here, but any grocery store or hardware store will do), set aside a few hours and put on clothes that will hide purple stains. Yes, it's a bit messy, but it blows Welch's out of the water.

As our good friend Beyonce would say, We don't think you're ready for this jelly. But it really is fruity-licious. Let us know your favorite canning recipes by posting a comment below.

Grape Jelly

First, make grape juice: For each batch, you'll need 4 cups juice, which requires about 3 1/2 pounds Concord or similar grapes. Wash and stem grapes and lightly crush fruit. Place in a stockpot, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water, bring to boil and simmer until fruit is soft — about 5 minutes. Strain through a jelly bag, squeezing with tongs to extract as much juice as possible.

Then, make jelly: While juice/sugar mixture is heating, sterilize eight half-pint jars in boiling water. A tutorial is available from Ball. In a large stockpot, combine 4 cups juice with 7 cups sugar (measurements need to be precise). Over high heat, stir continuously until sugar dissolves. When juice/sugar mixture mixture comes to a hard boil, add 1 pouch liquid pectin. When hard boil resumes, cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove mixture from heat, skimming off any foam. Pour hot jelly into hot jars, cover with two-piece caps and process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.


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