We have two concord grapevines in the backyard, and it has become our yearly fall tradition to pick dozens of pounds of them in September around the Harvest Moon, then try to unload them on our loved ones and neighbors as fast as possible. Dozens of pounds of grapes are literally THOUSANDS of grapes, and the bastards all ripen at once, so time is of the essence when dealing with them.
This year, however, because of a start-and-stop summer, our grapevines got confused, so we were left with a bunch of uneven bunches, with fruit ranging from green to raisin. We were able to salvage almost 30 pounds of sweet, handsome fruit, but they had to be separated from their cruddy brethren, and thus not giftable. Therefore, I had to tie my bonnet, button my pinafore, and go all Ma Ingalls on them by turning them into jam.
Grape jam, if done by the book, is a pain in the ass. You have to separate the pulp from the skin, then boil the pulp while cutting up the skins in a food processor, then combine them again and boil the mixture down...all to have a few jars of what basically tastes like Welch's. Well, a little better than Welch's, but still, not 12-hours-of-sweaty-labor better.
Therefore, we have winnowed down the recipe quite a bit to fit our needs. It tastes exactly the same as the "right" way.
Mang Farm "Grapple" Jam (1 batch = approx. 4 8-oz. jelly jars)
- 6-7 pounds Concord grapes
- 2 small or medium apples (Granny Smiths are great, but any will do)
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3-3.5 cups sugar
- Clean jelly jars, lids, and rings in whatever method you prefer (dishwasher on hot, boil in a pot, handwash with hot soapy water).
- Wash and de-stem the grapes. Roughly chop the apples INCLUDING the seeds (the apples make it so that we don't need to add pectin).
- In a stock or pasta pot, bring the grapes, apples, and water to a boil. Set the heat to medium and let the mixture simmer into juice (there will still be chunks, which we will strain out), about 20-30 minutes.
- Strain the mixture into a 12-inch skillet or high-walled fryer (you want to maximize surface area) using a mesh colander. With a potato masher or spatula, keep smushing the solids until you can no longer see apple pieces or pulp...basically all that's left will be seeds and skins.
- Bring the gorgeous purple liquid in the skillet to a boil. Boil down, stirring every so often, over medium to medium-high heat, for 30-40 minutes, until it thickens and the boiling bubbles start looking like psychadelic magenta cauliflower florets. Note: it will NOT look like jam, it will be more like a syrup. It will thicken up when it cools.
- Pour into jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Put on lids and rings. Sterilize the jars by boiling for 10 minutes in enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Take them out and let them cool for at least 12 hours in room temperature. Listen for the PING! of the vacuum seals and feel really rustic and awesome. Skin some rabbits and bake into a pie.
- Be prepared for people to start treating you like their best friend in order to snag one of your jars.
PS: Would you like a jar of our jam??? If so, post a food-themed haiku below, and I will randomly select a winner and mail one out to you!