Monday, August 26, 2013

Concord Grape Jam

My slippers slapped the front sidewalk as I ran out to my husband distracted with lawn maintenance. Holding a quart sized jar  glistening with my dark purple prize, I offered him a spoonful of my first homemade grape jam. His face reacted to the skins in the jam-- his grandma always made grape jelly. "But the flavor!" I demanded. I'm a jam kind of girl; I like a little chew. It wasn't that difficult to squeeze all the bits out of the grapes; it was kind of fun in a morbid play with your food kind of way. I'd still vote to leave the skins-- I'm certain there is some health benefits to them since that is also where wine derives its beneficial usage.

The recipe is from Rachel Saunders' The Blue Chair Jam Book. Check out her blog too. I love all of her jam recipes as she infuses them with herbs and has beautiful pictures and tells you about testing for doneness. I weigh my fruit on the scale, use my algebra skills to determine the ratios for fruit, sugar, etc. It works for me. This is a slightly modified version of the recipe in her book.

You've got to try this. You'll be ready to start jamming and canning full blown after two bites.

Concord Grape Jam
I bought Rachel Saunders’ The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook when I was in Japan. I didn’t have access to the variety of fruits that are here in Ohio. One of the delights of this summer was that I could finally make my own grape jam. Please note this isn’t jelly. This recipe is adapted from Rachel Saunders.

Concord Grapes, 4 pounds (1814 gm)
White Cane Sugar, 2 ½ pounds (1134 gm)
Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed, 3 oz
Orange Zest, ½ of an orange, finely zested
Orange Juice, freshly squeezed, ½ oz
  1. Using your fingers, gently squeeze the flesh from each grape into a pan. Be sure to catch all of the juices as well. Set the skins aside in a large pot.
  2. Over medium heat, bring the grape innards and juices to a simmer. Cover and cook until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Force the pulp through a fine-mesh strainer or chinois. Discard the seeds.
  3. Add the seedless pulp, sugar, lemon juice, orange zest, and orange juice to the grape skins. Stir frequently and bring to boil over high heat. Cook until jam is glossy and thicker, about 20 to 30 minutes, but test the jam. However, if you want to remove the skins, do so after about 10 minutes of cooking by running the slightly cooled liquid through the fine grade of a food mill or some other kind of strainer. Pour the strained liquid back in the pot, return to a steady boil and check the jam consistency after about 10 minutes to every few minutes after, until it reaches the desired consistency via the jam test.
  4. To test the jam, do a saucer test or I put a stainless steel spoon rest in the freezer, drop some cooking jam on it, stick it back in the freezer for 3 or 4 minutes and then feel the jam with my finger. If the jam is neither warm nor cold then it is the right temperature. If it’s thickened to a spreadable consistency, it is done. Cook another minute and skim off any white foam from the surface.
  5. Pour jam into sterilized jars and process.

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