We’ve been enjoying fruit from Autumn Hills Orchard in Groton for three seasons now through a partnership they have with local CSAs. The shares consist of mostly apples--different varieties, all delicious--but some weeks you’ll get a few pears or peaches mixed in, a pint of prune plums, or, as we recently received, a bunch of Concord grapes.
The grapes smelled so good, I couldn’t even believe it. I got a little drunk off the heady aroma and started engaging in some grape-related tweeting, mostly about where one might find teeny-tiny dollhouse-sized mason jars to fit the amount of jam I’d be able to make with a single bunch of grapes. Pretty soon, Ann at Autumn Hills was offering to drop more off at my house while making her delivery rounds. I tried not to sound too desperate as we made arrangements.
Later on that day, under cover of darkness, the grape fairy left on my porch five pounds of the most fragrant, sweet, musky grapes this side of Concord. Which made the most fragrant, sweet, delicious grape jam I’ve ever tasted. Seriously, I can’t bring myself to put it on peanut butter sandwiches. Peanut butter wouldn’t know a classy jam if it kicked him in the nuts. I don’t have a canner or anything snazzy like that. I don’t usually “can” anything officially. I just make enough of whatever it is that can be consumed within two months and then store it in jars in the fridge. But now I’m getting the bug. Blame it on Calamity Shazaam in the Kitchen who attended Eugenia Bone’s recent canning class and had the marinated cauliflower to prove it. This other cool canning blog didn’t hurt, either. So, I canned 9 out of the 12 jars of jam, as many as would fit in my pot at one time, and refrigerated the rest.
Looking at the purple jars lined up in my pantry (aka some shelves at the top of the basement stairs), I can’t wait to savor the taste of sweet summer sunshine in between chiseling our way out of our ice house this winter. I’ve already polished off a jar spreading it on my morning toast and mid-morning snack/mid-afternoon snack/dessert of jam/Manchego cheese. This stuff is supernatural. Next, I’m canning applesauce. You can’t stop me.
Concord Grape Jam
I accidentally bought the pectin for sugar-free recipes instead of the regular kind because reading labels is not my strong suit. It worked perfectly, though. I wouldn’t change a thing.
5 lbs. Concord grapes, plucked from the vine, washed
1 cup water
1 box pectin (not gelatin)
7 cups sugar
Sterilize your jars however you like to do it. I boiled them for 10 minutes in a stock pot, jars resting on their metal rings to keep the glass from rattling horribly on the bottom.
In another large pot, mash grapes, add water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. Let cool a bit, then run through a food mill. Of the three disks that came with the food mill, I used the one with the mid-sized holes, which kept out seeds and skins but kept in a little bit of pulp, not too much. I was left with about 7 cups of grape puree. Return puree to pot, add pectin, and bring to a hard boil. Stir in the sugar, return to a boil, and cook 1 minute longer. Remove from heat.
Ladle into sterilized jars leaving about ½-inch of headspace. Wipe off rims of jars with a damp paper towel. Screw on lids and boil jars for 10 minutes in water covering them by 1 inch. Let cool 24 hours (you should hear the suction pull the metal lids inward with a pop as they cool). If you don’t achieve a good seal or if you want to just skip the canning, store the jars in the refrigerator and give away whatever you won’t be able to eat. Label jars with the date. Makes 12 half-pint jelly jars.
Source: Adapted from The Salted Cod. We did a jam swap last year, so I knew his recipe was a good one.