Sara – Sure my husband likes pork and steak, but it’s not his favorite – his favorite food – berries….well and ice cream. When spring comes and the berries are the first color in the market we spend a lot of money on quarts of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries that rarely see the inside of our kitchen. Like a kid in a candy store he grabs as many quarts as he can carry… eating them while he is paying for them. By the time we get home from the market we are left only with empty cartons and stained fingers. But always a happy husband.
Jams were the first thing I taught myself to can. It is considered the easiest. Pickles are easy also – but in my opinion not as tasty on a fresh warm piece of bread. Because concord grapes come later in the harvest season I had never canned them. With the excitement of spring berries I will fill my cabinets with strawberry, rhubarb, and raspberry jams and have no room for later season jams. But walking through the farmers market last fall I was smacked straight in the face with the smell of grape. The same grape smell I remember from childhood, using both hands to hold a big cold glass of grape juice after a long day of playing in the yard. It was intoxicating not only to me but also to the bees… they were everywhere. I decided to buy some and take a stab at making grape jelly. Be for-warned my fellow jam makers – grape jelly is more time consuming and will stain your walls, floor, and in my case … the ceiling.
Bette - The air is getting colder. The food a little heavier and the colors a bit more autumnal. I found the painting that we used as the background in this shot, at elephants trunk. This is a great flea market in New Milford ct. that is open Sundays from April – November.
It sounds odd, and I guess I think about this frequently, but when I heard that we were shooting the grape jelly, I immediately thought of this painting. I think of props, fabrics, colors etc that will work with the different foods we shoot, whether on an ad job, catalogue, or this blog.
I felt that the combination of fall colors, dark wood and the deep purple of the jelly would tell our story.
- 3 lbs of concord grapes – which will end up 4 cups of juice
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 cup of honey – what ever flavor you like
- 1 bunch of rosemary
- ¼ cup of lemon juice
- 3 tsp pectin
- Pull the grapes from the vine and discard stems and any hitch hiker bees that may have come along. Rinse the grapes in cold water. Add your grapes to a large pot and add just a touch of water so they can start to boil. Use a potato masher or large spoon to mash your fruit. Stirring often bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. This will help the juice release and make straining easier. After simmering allow the grapes to cool and pass the liquid and pulp through a food mill to get seeds and skins out. Refrigerate the liquid overnight. This step is not necessary but it is thought to cut back on crystallization of the jelly in the final product. I only did this because I knew we were going to photograph the jars and I didn’t want any imperfections.
- The next day pass the juice through a jelly bag or you can use a cheese cloth and a colander. This will remove any seeds or skins that made it through the food mill. Pour the juice into a large pot (I like to use non stick to make cleanup easier). Add the bunch of rosemary to steep in the liquid. Measure out ¼ cup of the honey into a bowl and add your 3 teaspoon of pectin to this. Pectin needs to be stirred into the honey. This will keep it from clumping and will ensure a more even set. Bring the juice close to a boil and stir in the pectin and honey. Continue stirring as it begins to boil. Allow to boil hard for a few minutes while stirring. Add in the additional honey and continue to stir for one minute. Turn the heat off and allow to cool just a bit. Remove the rosemary – trying to get all of the pieces. Ladle into hot sterilized canning jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Seat the hot sterilized lids and add them to your water bath canner to process for 5 minutes. If you aren’t up to sealing the jars – you can pour the jelly into a sterilized glass container and refrigerate for up to 3 months or until fuzz grows.