I love gardening. However in our tiny City of Winnipeg yard, there's not too much room. I did get a small garden in though. This lushous bounty did not come from my garden. My husbands cousin has a lovely grape vine and invited us to come and help ourselves.
I don't have much experience with an over abundance of Concord grapes, sure apples I'm used to, tomatoes, great. But what to do with grapes?
Enter Grape Jelly!
Now, eating no refined sugar, even low natural sugar, for health reasons often makes cooking interesting. Most things I've adapted to quite well, but jam still needs something. I've made freezer jams in the past with strawberries and a tiny bit of coconut sugar with great results. These grapes are actually quite tart, and I attempted to sort-of follow a guideline for the sugar in this recipe.
I've adapted the recipe from Pomona's Pectin (which is a must for low/no sugar jam making). You can see the original recipe here. I decided not to add any of the spices and preserve the unadulterated grape taste. I also increased the recipe, by a lot.
1 box of Pomona's Universal Pectin which included calcium for calcium water and pectin
Grapes or Grape Juice
Washed a sterilized canning jars and lids.
What I Used
24 cups grape juice
10 tsp calcium water
4 cups coconut sugar
5 Tbsp Pamona's Pectin
I got about 7 1/2 pints from this batch.
The first thing you got to do is take each and every one of those grapes off it's stem. These things were easy enough to pick from the vine, I think grapes are the easiest fruit to pick large amounts of, but then you have to individually pick each one. Not for the faint of heart...I watched a couple movies while doing this.
Now we get to turn all our hard work into mush. I am so very fortunate as to have a Champion Juicer. If you don't have one, I pity you, but you can gently cook the grape to help them soften and then squeeze the pulp through a sieve. Also this is the time when I started boiling my water to sterilize my jars and have them hot for filling. A big canner full of water takes a long time to boil.
Meanwhile, mix up your calcium water. What's this? Don't worry. It comes in your Pomona's Pectin package. The calcium water is what activated the pectin to jell. Most fruit has it in, but since it's hard to know the amount, adding it ensures better consistency. To prepare the calcium water add 1/2 tsp of the calcium powder (smaller packet) with 1/2 cup water in a small jar with a lid. Shake until the calcium is dissolved.
I measured and recorded the amount of juice (very important when doubling or tripling a recipe). Dump the whole thing, foam and juice, into a large pot. The foam actually had a fair bit of substance to it, don't worry, it all become liquid as it cooks. I added 10 tsp of calcium water. I simply multiplied the recipe, however as the jelly turned out quite thick, I would add less next time. The grapes have a lot of jelling power on their own.
Combine the coconut sugar and pectin together in a separate bowl. I used only 4 cups of sugar, much less than most people would prefer, but your tastes buds really do change when you don't eat much sugar. You may want to add more. I also used 5 Tbsp of the pectin. Again, since the grapes have their own pectin, in the future I would add a bit less.
Bring the pot to a boil. Make sure to stir the juice so that it does not burn. Once it has come to a boil, add the sugar/pectin mix. Continue stirring to dissolve it all together.
Once the mixture returns to a boil, it's good to go. Ladle into hot jars. Yes, it is a messy, messy job. Don't worry that your "jelly" is rather liquidy, it will jell as it cools. Fill jars to 1/4" or so from the top. Make sure the rims are clean and the lids are strewed on, but not too tight.
Place jars in a canner and boil for 10 min.
Clean up! .... Jam making is a messy business.
There was a little bit left over. Not enough to bottle, but enough to enjoy for a few days. Boy, did it get thick. I think next time I will add less pectin and calcium water. . Grapes contain a fair bit of pectin themselves which would have also helped it congeal.