We got a nice big bunch of concord grapes in our CSA share this past week and the week before, so I came up with the grand idea of making grape jelly. I’ve been on a huge pb&j kick (it’s the new peach-yogurt-and-granola), and besides that, I am trying to stock up on things to sweeten my yogurt throughout the winter now that peaches aren’t in season anymore, and plus I love any opportunity to can stuff. So: grape jelly it was.
Making the juice was so easy — wash grapes, throw them in a big pot with a little water, crush them, boil.
I used a slotted spoon to scoop out the grape seeds and skins, and the next day I strained the juice through cheesecloth.
It looked like ink, and my cheesecloth wound up looking like this after I washed it:
Incidentally, did you know that spiders apparently can live in your refrigerator for up to two weeks at a time? While I was washing my grapes (two weeks after I got them), I learned this the hard way.
Anyway. I finally had time on Wednesday night to try my hand making jelly. (I also learned definitively that I am NOT a night owl, because setting out on a jelly-making journey at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday felt very unnatural and awkward to me. Despite the fact that I adore being in the kitchen, I wanted nothing more than to be sitting on my couch knitting.)
The recipe was innocuous enough, apart from the fact that it called for SEVEN CUPS OF SUGAR to be added to four cups of grape juice. I slashed that amount to two cups of sugar. No, my utter failure at jelly-making lies at my own feet, and in this pot:
Why did I think that a two-quart saucepan would be sufficient for my needs? It was not. When I got to the add-pectin-and-boil-hard-for-one-minute step of the recipe, this became VERY apparent VERY QUICKLY. Molten grape juice boiled over out of the pot at a kind of terrifying speed, flooding my stovetop and filling my kitchen with smoke and the smell of burning grapes. All I could do was take the pot off the heat and open every window on the ground floor, while Steve ran outside with our smoke alarm.
My would-be jelly was in dire straits. I transferred it to my stock pot and placed it on a different burner, as the one I had been using was now coated in a hard layer of sugar. However, on burner #2 I wasn’t really able to achieve boil-hard-for-one-minute, and burners 3 and 4 were already taken up by the giant canning pot. I crossed my fingers and hoped that my somewhat gentler boil would do the trick.
So did it? You be the judge:
It’s grape juice with pectin added.
Oh well. I suppose you can’t win them all; I think I’m going to cook it down into syrup whenever I open it, and that’ll suit my needs fine as a yogurt-enhancer and pancake topper. Still, I can’t pretend it didn’t sting a little to go through all that effort to can five jars of grape juice with pectin added.
Now, however, a new question: I have some extra grape juice in the fridge. Do I go for redemption or is that courting misery?
In other news, I signed up tonight for an Iyengar yoga class next week! I am very excited. It’s an introductory class, but I have no experience with the Iyengar method and it’s always better to start at the ground level. My yoga practice has been hurting lately and I’m missing it, so hopefully this will be the push I need to get me back on my mat a bit more often.