Thursday, October 9, 2014

Concord Grape Jam

Fall is in full swing in Upstate New York!  One of the amazing, fragrant offerings of this season is the dusty, gorgeous Concord Grape. A hefty amount of grapes arrived in our CSA crate, and I was inspired to try my hand at making and canning Grape Jam.  My kitchen has never smelled so sweetly delectable!  (Can you tell that I'm in love with the smell of Concord Grapes?)

*This recipe is peanut-free, tree nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, soy-free, fish-free, and shellfish-free. As always, check this ingredient list and your local products to make sure that this recipe is allergy safe for your family and/or friends! 

Ingredients: Concord grapes (at least 2 quarts), water, sugar


First, separate the skins from the pulp.  If you've never peeled Concord Grapes before, you're probably thinking that peeling all these little jewels will take FOREVER.  And while it does take a little time, it's not as hard as one might think.  Concord Grapes are a "slip skin" variety of grape, which means a little squeeze at one end of the grape, sends the pulp right out of the skin!  

Place the skins in one large bowl, and the pulp in another.  The pulp will have seeds, but you'll be separating those out after you've cooked it down, trust me, it's easier that way.

Cook the skins over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, with just enough water to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Cook the pulp down, over medium heat, until it is very soft.

Once the skins have cooked down, I like to use my immersion blender to break them up even more. (You can chop them before cooking them, but I find it to be VERY messy.)

I also use a potato masher to break up the pulp while it's cooking.

Strain the pulp through a mesh sieve (or use a food mill, if you're fancy like that), into the pot with the skins.  I prefer to use a wooden spoon to mash the pulp through, so I'm truly left with only the seeds and really stringy pieces in the sieve.

At this point you may want to stop and wipe the drool off of your chin so it doesn't contaminate the jam.  Oh, and resist the urge to put your face in the pot to smell the goodness...this stuff is hot! (Although, a "Grape Steam Facial" does sound like something you'd pay a lot for at a spa...)

Stir the skins and pulp together and add up to 6 cups of sugar per 2 quarts (starting measurement) of grapes. We prefer our jam to be a little more tart, so I cut the sugar to approximately 4 cups per 2 quarts.

Gradually bring the mixture up to a boil, and continue stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue stirring while boiling rapidly until the jam reaches the gelling point.  

I test the gelling point by placing a little jam on a cold plate and bringing it to room temperature by cooling it rapidly in the freezer. Once cooled, drag your finger through the middle, and see if the jam holds the separation you've made. 

Ladle into glass jars that have been warmed in a hot water bath. (Hot jam in cold jars = broken glass!!) 

*If you are planning on canning/preserving the jam, leave 1/4 inch headspace and process 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner

 As always, from The Allergy Safe Kitchen, I wish you "Good Cooking, and Safe Eating"!

*Photo credits: All photos taken by Aidan Van Horn

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