Get ’em while they’re hot ripe!

Needless to say we all know how horrid the weather was last Saturday but I did make my way to the farmer’s market and there were a couple of folks there. Stone Pointe Farms made it down to Montclair and they had their own, New Jersey grown concord grapes. Most of the concords I’ve seen so far this season have come from New York State. There’s only a short harvest season for these grapes, September & October and the Jersey farmers are starting to harvest theirs. I spent the rest of my Saturday making grape jelly. In my opinion concord grapes make the best, most nostalgic (think Welch’s jelly from childhood) jelly. I’ve been enjoying my PB&J’s all week!
Here’s a simple grape jelly recipe that I ended up taking right from the package of pectin*. It’s really simple and let’s face it if our grandmothers or great grandmothers spent the better part of their summers putting up preserves, pickles, fruits & veggies of all dimension we can at least attempt to make our own grape jelly. Plus it’s fun to do with the kids and there’s nothing like the taste of fresh concord grapes. We’re also lucky to live in a part of the country where they grow naturally.
Come on – make grandma proud!
3 1/2 lbs. Concord grapes
½ -1 cup honey or ¾ -2 cups sugar
4 tsp. Pectin powder
4 tsp. Calcium water
1) Put the rinsed grapes in a sauce pot with about a ½ cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
2) Remove from the heat and strain into a clean bowl. You can store the puree at this point in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the jelly.
3) When you’re ready and you’ve pre-boiled your jars and lids to make sure they’re sterile, you’re ready to make the jelly.
4) Pour the grape puree into a sauce pan and add the calcium water. Mix thoroughly.
5) In a separate bowl measure out your honey or sugar and add pectin powder. Mix thoroughly.
6) Bring the puree to a boil and add the sugar/pectin mixture and stir vigorously to make sure it all dissolves. Once it has returned to the boil remove for the heat.
7) Using a canning funnel (wide mouth)** fill the sterilized jars to a ½ inch from the top.
8) Screw on the two-piece lids and put the jars into a pot of boiling water to cover. Boil for 5 minutes and then remove.
9) Check the seals by pressing the center. If it pops up it didn’t seal properly and you should keep it in the refrigerator and use it within three weeks. Otherwise the lids should be sucked down tight and once cool you can store them at room temperature in a dark cupboard.
*It’s Pomona’s Universal Pectin and it’s 100% pure citrus pectin. You can find it at Whole Foods Markets.
**It seems that canning supplies can be hard to come by these days so you can get everything you need at American Royal Hardware at 251 Park Street, Montclair – tell ’em Cat sent ya!

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