Top | Canning and Preserving
(recipe, Ashley English)
A perennial favorite of children and adults alike (not to mention budget-wise college students), grape jelly is the perfect solution for tempering the innate tartness of grapes. Spread heavily over peanut butter, grape jelly aids in producing what is arguably the ultimate quick and tasty sandwich. It also pairs flawlessly when matched with a spicy chili sauce and poured over meatballs, producing a robust appetizer. Of course, it's also quite good straight out of the jar, thank you very much!
- 3½ lb. Concord or red grapes
- ¾ cup water
- 4 tsp. dry pectin
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- A jelly bag or cheesecloth
- Prep the grapes: Rinse grapes under cool water. Remove from stems and place in a medium stainless-steel pot. (Don't bother removing the seeds, if present, as they will be strained out later in the jelly bag or cheesecloth.) Add ¾ cup water, crush grapes lightly with a wooden spoon or mallet, and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 12 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.
- Pour the grape mixture into either a moistened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Place over a large bowl, and allow juice to drip out overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Prep the equipment: Place two small plates in the freezer (these will be used later to test for gelling).
- Sterilize 4 half-pint mason jars, lids, and screw rings. Fill a canner or large stockpot with water, and set over medium-high heat. Bring just to the boiling point. Place lids in a small saucepan, fill with water, bring to a boil, turn off heat, remove from the stovetop, and set aside.
- Cook the jelly: Mix ¼ cup sugar with pectin in a small bowl. Transfer the collected grape juice to a medium stainless-steel pot, add sugar-pectin mixture, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once juice has reached a full boil, add additional sugar, and boil rapidly for 2 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises to the top of the boiling mixture.
- Test for gelling: Remove a plate from the freezer and spoon about 1 teaspoon of the grape mixture onto it. Place back in the freezer and wait 2 minutes. Remove the plate from the freezer and push the edge of the jelly with your fingertip. If it has gelled properly, the surface will wrinkle a bit. If it fails to wrinkle, or is obviously still runny, continue cooking the jelly for 2 minutes longer, and then repeat the test.
- Assemble the jars: Place the hot jars on top of a kitchen cloth on the counter. With the help of a canning funnel, ladle jelly into the jars, reserving ¼-inch headspace. Use a nonmetallic spatula to remove any trapped air bubbles, and wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Place on lids and screw bands, tightening only until fingertip-tight.
- Process the jelly: Using a jar lifter, place the jars into the canner. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remove and set on a cloth on the counter to cool completely.
- Store in a cool, dark, dry place.
Variation: To impart a bit of unexpected herbal vigor to your jelly, consider adding herbs de Provence. Named after the sunny region in southern France, the herbal blend consists of varying amounts of bay leaf, thyme, fennel, rosemary, chervil, oregano, summer savory, tarragon, mint, marjoram, and lavender. Place 1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence in a muslin pouch, secure at the top, and add to the grape mixture after the sugar has dissolved. Remove once the mixture begins to gel, and process as above.