Concord Grape Jelly

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

1/2cup water

1cup sugar

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.



Strawberry Vanilla-Bean Jam

Jay and I were out shopping the other night and stopped into a bookstore because he has wanted reading material but refuses to touch my Kindle. We didn’t end up with any real reading material because we spent most of our time in the cookbook isle (surprise!). After sitting in the store, going through book after book about canning, we came to a decision and I have to say we’re really excited. We got Put ’em up! A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling. It is a really great guide to canning, has lots of pictures, and guides for storing in the fridge only, as well as methods to preserving what you make with jars and cans. Our first attempt (which has turned out really well!!!) is Strawberry Vanilla-Bean Jam.

Strawberry Vanilla-Bean Jam

For this recipe you will need:

8cups strawberries, hulled and halved

2cups sugar

1/4cup lemon juice (the recipe calls for bottled lemon juice but we used fresh, it was 3small lemons)

1 vanilla bean or 1T of vanilla paste (if this freaks you out, just leave it out, it will be just as delicious.)

4 half-pint jars. (We had a little extra that we just stored in a bowl and it is almost gone already!)


Combine the strawberries and sugar, and let them sit overnight and develop lots of juices!


  1. Put the strawberry mixture in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and crushing the strawberries.
  2. Add the lemon juice and vanilla bean. Continue cooking and stirring for about 20 minutes. (If you’re not sure if it is thick enough, place a small spoonful of jam onto a plate, let it cool down. Push the jam with your finger and if it wrinkles as you push it, it is done!)
  3.  Remove the pot from the heat, let it rest for 5 minutes and stir every once in a while to release any air bubbles. If you don’t want to can the jam, you can store it in containers for up to 3 weeks, refrigerated.


To can the jam, use the boiling water method. This means ladle the jam in to clean, hot jars (we used 1/2pint jars) and leave a 1/4inch of space in the jar. Place the lids on the jars, finger tight and boil for 10 minutes. Put the jars aside and check to make sure the lids are on tight.



This recipe is from Put ’em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton, Storey Publishing, 2011.