Grape Jelly

This is a simple recipe but its great for when your husband buys a giant container of grapes from Sam’s but forgets that you only eat green grapes, not purple, and then he only eats a few handfuls before they start getting wrinkles. When I lived in NC my father in law had wild grape bushes near his house and he would bring me big bags full of grapes and they made the most wonderful jelly. The Sam’s grape jelly isn’t as good, but its a lot like grape jelly off the shelf and prevents the sad waste of dead grapes in the back of the fridge.

Grape Jelly

  • 4 cups of whole grapes
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • 1/2 packet pectin (2.5T)

Fills 3 jam (1/2 pint) jars

 

In a pot on the stove cook your grapes in the water. You can toss them in whole or, if you want them to cook faster, chop them in half first. Use a large spoon to smoosh the grapes as they cook until you have grape mush. Run this through a food mill to remove the seeds (if there are any) and skins.

I like to get as much grape juice out as possible so I will run the mash through the food mill, return it to the pot to cook some more and then put it through the food mill again to make sure I get as much good stuff out of the skins as possible. What you’ll have left is grape juice. I’ve heard of people making grape jelly by buying grape juice and starting with that, but it seems a little silly to me to buy grape juice for jelly making. Why not just buy grape jelly?

From my 4 cups of grapes + 1/2 cup of water I ended up with 2 cups of grape juice. If your grapes are more or less juicy your amount may vary. If so, adjust the amount of sugar and pectin in proportion to the amount of juice you are using.

Into your pot of juice add your sugar and cook, stirring, until it is fully dissolved. Now bring your jelly up to a rolling boil, add pectin and continue to boil and stir for a full minute.

Pour hot jelly into jars and process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.

 

 

Remember that I am not an expert at food preservation, so while you are welcome to be inspired by my experiments please do you research on safe food preservation techniques first!

Eat At Your Own Risk

Lately I’ve been posting about canning and fermenting a lot and included some of my own recipes. Please note, though, that I am by no means an expert at preserving food. I frequently refer to things as “experiments” because that is exactly what they are– a good outcome is not guaranteed! If you’d like to use my recipes please go right ahead but do so with the knowledge that a) you may not have the same results as me and b) what you do end up with MAY NOT BE SAFE TO EAT. Clearly, I have yet to kill myself or anyone that I’ve fed my canned and/or fermented foods to but that doesn’t guarantee their safety. Please do not ever follow a recipe you find online for preserving foods without first doing some research into safe food preservation. The National Center for Food Preservation is my go-to source for safe food preservation practices. The Ball Blue Book also has a great reputation though I haven’t used it myself. Most of my canning experience is with water bath canning so I generally only can foods with high levels of sugar (jams/jellies) or acid (pickles, tomatoes) and always water bath for a minimum of 10 minutes (longer if the center for food preservation recommends it).

Fermented foods can be upsetting to some digestive systems even if they are technically safe to eat. If you don’t normally eat fermented or probiotic rich foods its generally best to start with small quantities or be prepared for a bit of digestive unrest (i.e. lots of gas and frequent trips to the restroom). This doesn’t mean the food has gone bad, just that your body needs to adjust to a new diet. If there is one thing that my sheep and goats have taught me is that its important to change diets slowly to give the digestive system to adapt. Thankfully a sudden change is much less likely to kill a human than a goat!

If in doubt, recipes for canned goods can always be kept in the fridge or freezer for extra safety and/or can be cooked prior to eating.

 

Pepper Jelly

2014-08-21 17.17.32We finally succeeded in growing bell peppers this year which, when combined with the jalapenos that we always have good luck with, gives us everything we need to make pepper jelly! We always get lots of requests for pepper jelly from friends and family and we like to keep some around for ourselves (its great on chevre!) but it takes a LOT of peppers. Next year I really need to make sure that we plant more especially since I’ve discovered that it works just fine to pop them in the freezer until I have enough ripe peppers – and enough time- to make a batch of jelly.

 

2014-08-21 17.17.38

 

 

 

Pepper Jelly

1.5 cups of finely chopped bell peppers plus one pepper set aside for garnishing

1.25 cups of finely chopped jalapenos plus eight peppers set aside for garnishing

5 cups sugar

1.25cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 pack liquid pectin

 

Chopped Peppers

Chop all of your peppers, removing seeds, except for the ones set aside for garnishing.

Pepper Jelly Cooking

Combine chopped peppers, sugar and vinegar in a pot and cook until the peppers look like this photo.

garnishing peppers

While your jelly is cooking, chop your garnishing peppers.

Bring to a rolling boil and add pectin, stir while boiling for a minute and then remove from heat.

Pour through a sieve into glass jars, removing all the cooked bits of pepper.

garnishing

Add a couple of spoon fulls of garnishing peppers to each jar.

Process using waterbath canning method.

As your jars are cooling on the counter, flip them over or shake them occasionally to redistribute the garnish peppers. If you don’t do this, they will all float to the top where you can’t see them. For an attractive jar and an even distribution of pepper chunks in your jelly you need to catch the jars when they are still fluid enough for the pepper chunks to move around, but thick enough that they won’t rise back to the top!

 

Remember that I am not an expert at food preservation, so while you are welcome to be inspired by my experiments please do you research on safe food preservation techniques first!

Blackberry Bourbon Jam

blackberries

Blackberry Mush in the Food Mill

Earlier this summer my mom brought my some blackberries from her yard and they were delicious, but after traveling all the way from North Carolina in the back of her car they were perfectly ripe when we got them and quickly started to down the soft, sticky slope of over ripeness. So, of course, I made jam. I could have made ordinary blackberry jam but we still had some of that in the pantry from last year so I decided to try something new– Blackberry Bourbon Jam. Its pretty good. A little weird. Very bourbony. If you don’t happen to live in the middle of Bourbon Country like I do you might want to use less bourbon for a more subtle flavor.

 

Blackberry Bourbon Jam

  • 6 cups¬† blackberries
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 3 TBS lemon syrup
  • 1/2TBS vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup bourbon (or less)

Combine sugar and blackberries in a pot and cook until the blackberries have fallen apart. Use a food mill to remove the skins and seeds. If you are feeling lazy you *can* skip this step but I don’t like the texture of blackberry jam with the seeds left in. They get stuck between my teeth.

Once you have a smooth, lovely syrup add your remaining ingredients.

Pour hot jam into jars and water bath process for at least 10minutes.

 

Note: I didn’t use pectin in this recipe and it turned out great. This may be because I used lemon syrup that happened to contain some of the lemon rind in addition to the juice (lemon rind naturally contains pectin), because I cooked it for a long time (it took me a while to decide on my ingredients so I just let it simmer while I was experimenting with adding a little of this, a little of that…) or because I added so much sugar. I’m not sure if it would set as well without pectin if I tried it again. I do usually add pectin to my jams to ensure a nice firm, spreadable texture without having to cook for a long time or add excessive¬† sugar (though let’s be honest it, I add a ton of sugar anyway. I like my jams to be sweet!) According to the handy dandy Ball Pectin Calculator you would want to use about 7.5 TBS of “Real Fruit Classic Pectin” for this recipe which I believe is equal to almost 4 packets of liquid pectin. That seems like a ton of pectin to me, though, so take that information with a grain of salt.

 

 

 

Remember that I am not an expert at food preservation, so while you are welcome to be inspired by my experiments please do you research on safe food preservation techniques first!