Wednesday, October 07, 2009

How to make White Grape Jelly

I have to say that I'm feeling pretty victorious today. Canning your own preserves, jams or jellies isn't difficult. It's not. But it is on a different level of culinary skill then tossing up a stir-fry or making a big pot of your favorite chili. It's more like baking. You need a little patience, a little precision and you need to follow the recipe.

For the past seven years, Jeremy and I have lived in a beautiful little duplex with grape vines growing along the fence that wraps around one side of our house. And every year I promise that I'm going to make something with all these grapes. But I never have, until this year.

Inspired by all the amazing foodies I've met and events I gone to this summer, I decided not to let another year slip by. And while it took three full days of concentrated effort, I've achieved success! And it wasn't really that difficult, thanks to one box of Pomona's Universal Pectin.

On my first attempt (day one) I picked, washed and removed the stems from 3 1/2 pounds or about 10 cups of grapes. I pulled out the canning kettle and jars, filled the kettle with water, brought it to a boil, sterilized the jars and using a box of Certo Pectin Crystals I began to make my first batch of grape jelly.

What went wrong

I used Canadian Living Cooks Elizabeth Baird's recipe. Now these recipes are usually extremely reliable and foolproof but they do actually require one thing, that you follow them. Using Certo pectin, this recipe calls for four cups of juice to five cups of sugar. I just couldn't bring myself to add this much sugar so I halved it, and as a result my jelly did not jell. At all.

Second attempt...

For my second attempt, I used Pomona's Universal Pectin which says right on the box that it jells with low amounts of sweetener. In comparison, the Pomona recipe uses four cups of juice to only 3/4 cup of sugar. I used the recipe for Concord Grape Jelly that came with the box and followed it to the tee. The recipe requires two days: the first day you make juice from 3 1/2 pounds or about 10 cups of grapes and let it sit in the fridge overnight, the second day you pour off the juice and make the jelly. Following the recipe works like magic!

My advice for any kind of preserving is do a little research and find a recipe that you're comfortable with. If your fine with using a lot of sugar, use Certo pectin or skip pectin all together. If you want a low sugar recipe, try Pomona's Universal Pectin. With whatever recipe you choose, use patience, precision and follow the recipe.

White Grape Jelly (makes 8 - 125 ml jars)

3 1/2 pounds or 10 cups of grapes
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1/2 to 1 cup honey or 3/4-2 cups sugar
1 box of Pomona's Universal Pectin

To make the grape juice, wash grapes, remove stems and mash in a large pot. Bring to a boil with 1/2 cup of water and then simmer covered for 10 minutes. Pour the mixture into a jelly bag, strainer or a colander covered with cheese cloth and let it drip until the juice stops. To avoid crystals, let the juice sit overnight in the fridge. The next day, pour off the juice while being careful not to disturb the sediment.

Wash and rinse jars; let stand in boiling water in a large pot or canning kettle. Bring the lids and rings to a simmer in a separate, smaller pot.

Measure four cups of juice into a large pot and add in 1/4 cup of lemon or lime juice.

Add proper amount of calcium water and stir well. Measure sugar or cold/room temperature honey into a separate bowl. Thoroughly mix proper amount of pectin powder into the honey or sugar.

Bring fruit or juice to a boil. Add pectin-honey or pectin-sugar and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes while cooking to dissolve the pectin. Return to a boil and remove from heat.

Fill jars to 1/4" from the top. Screw on the two-piece lid until "finger tight." Put the filled jars into the large pot or canning kettle. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let the jars cool in a protected area. Don't move the jars until they are completely cooled, over night is best.

Put any unsealed jars in the fridge to enjoy first. Sealed lids should be sucked down.


The Monday Through Friday Gourmet said...

Thank you! I have so many grapes at my parents farm to process and I can't find a good recipe, now I have a mission for the weekend! Thanks Melody!

Anonymous said...

I must try this! If I don't have grape vines what sort of grapes would you recommend? Bridget

Melody Wey said...

Thanks for the comments! Making your own jelly and jams is so rewarding, I highly recommend it.

I would suggest using concord grapes or taking a walk around the neighborhood to see if any of your neighbors have a plenitude of grapes you could use.

Amelia PS said...

what cute little jars of golden deliciousness!!!