I have a lot of memories of my grandfather. The most special memories to me are hanging out behind his parked boat, “The Cream Puff,” in the garden. I remember sweet, thick blackberries climbing up a trellis on the wall of the garage. I can still feel the rapid movement in my thighs as I dodged bumblebees to get one sweet berry. And I still try to avoid the disappointment in my mother’s face as the sticky purple juice stained my white t-shirt.
Lucky for me, my father picked up gardening too. My dad grew sweet peas that he would pick for us by the grocery bag-full. My sisters and I sat on the swing set rapidly cracking each shell to get every last pea we could. I am not a gardener but I am thankful to have had the experience of same-day soil to table produce. I believe these fresh fruits & veggies have shaped my love for food. I cherish the opportunity to visit my local farmer’s market every Wednesday and Saturday. This year we’ve enjoyed sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, giant zucchini, and even sweet baby plumbs. But, I can’t help but to hope for tons of concord grapes.
Concord or “squeeze grapes” are the best kind of grape in the world. Have you ever eaten red or green grapes and wondered where grape flavored things come from? Concord grapes are the answer and if you’ve never seen or tasted one before, now is the time! You can find them at the end of the summer at farmer’s markets and in some stores (mine are from my Dad’s garden). Get ready to enjoy the most naturally grape-y thing you’ve ever tasted! I still enjoy PB&J often, but you can eat this on toast, biscuits, scones, bagels, ritz crackers.
My grandma even says the super-secret ingredient in her spaghetti sauce (oops not so secret anymore) is a spoonful of grape jelly. I know it sounds weird but you might be surprised to know other people use white or brown sugar to do the same trick, cut the acidity of the tomatoes and add a little sweetness. The best thing about this recipe is that you put the grapes in whole – with skin, seeds and all. So easy.
Concord Grape Jelly
Makes about 4 cups
For this recipe you will need:
4lbs concord grapes, stemmed
1tsp Pomona’s Universal Pection
1tsp calcium water (from pectin box)
Prep day 1
Remove the grapes from the stems and put them directly in a large pot.
Cook day 1
Add 1/2cup water to the grapes and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, crushing the fruit with a potato masher and stirring for about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Strain the mixture in a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a large bowl. Let the mixture drain in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t press on the mixture.
Prep day 2
Combine sugar and pectin powder in a small bowl and set aside.
Measure a quart of juice, leaving behind the sediment.
Cook day 2
Pour the juice into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the calcium water and return to a boil. Add the sugar-pectin mixture, stirring to dissolve and return to a boil. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes stirring occasionally to release air bubbles. Skim off any foam.
Ladle into hot, clean jars leaving 1/4 of headspace. Put on the lids to finger tight. Process the jars in boiling water (with water 1inch about jars) for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the jars rest for 5minutes. Remove the jars from the water and tighten the seals after 24hours. Store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.