Late August early September is the season for concord grapes in NJ. As I walk out by my grape arbor, the scent of these grapes permeate the air. They have the strong aromatic fragrance of a freshly opened bottle of red wine or the Welches grape juice my mom used to buy for us when we were kids. I always remember my mom making this wonderful grape jam when I was a kid. A friend of hers would bring her a basket of grapes every year that she picked from her yard. I still use my mom's old recipe from Sure-Jell. The recipe is folded, cracked and hard to make out...but every year I pull it out and follow those instructions just like my mom did.
|My mom's old recipe sheet...this happens to be the jelly side|
|Beautiful grapes growing on my arbor|
|Our grape arbor|
|This is just one colander full of concord grapes|
Concord Grapes grow wild in most of the northeast. They have a dark purplish black skin, and are often covered in a harmless layer of white bloom. They're usually less sweet than traditional grapes. They are also a "slip-skin" variety of grape, which means that they pop right out of their skin when you give them a little pinch. The wild grape is smaller then your cultivated grape and has several pits in each one.
This year I was able to pick enough for two batches of jam. After I slip the skins off the grapes, I put the skins in a food processor and process. I then add the skins to the grapes and cook them down. After that I put the boiled fruit through a food mill. The result is a thick wonderful juice that makes an amazing jam. A time consuming job but, if you tasted this jam you would think it was well worth the effort! Recently I found a recipe from Sure-Jell on the Kraft web-site that is the same as my mom's. I've shared it here for you.
|Slipping the skin off one of the concord grapes|
|Grapes that have had the skin slipped off|
|The skins being processed in food processor|
|Pulp and grape skins mixed together|
|Stirring the Sure-Jell into the pot of grape juice|
|After I ladle the jam into the jars and seal them, I turn them upside down for 5 minutes....this is called the inversion method...I use this rather than the water bath method. I would only use this method on jams and jellies because the liquid is at such a high temperature.|
|Some of my Grape Jam ready to give to friends and family|
what you need
6 cups prepared fruit (buy about 4 lb. fully ripe Concord grapes)
1 cup water
1 box SURE-.JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
7-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.
SLIP skins from grapes. Finely chop or grind skins; set aside. Mix grape pulp and water in saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 min. Press through sieve to remove seeds. Combine skins and pulp. Measure exactly 6 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot.
STIR in pectin. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)