Monday, July 14, 2008


Look what I did!

It all started when I noticed something growing wild by the side of the road. Hard and green, very small bunches. Gooseberries? Maybe. Who knows, I'm the last person to recognize flora and fauna.

Asked a gentleman whose lived on this road for 20+ years and he said they are wild mustang grapes and they make wonderful jelly, he had his mother's recipe he'd be happy to share.

I still don't really know what possessed me. Maybe it's the whole idea of locavorism. This is as "local" as it gets. So, why not give it a try. Who cares that I know nothing about canning and preserving.

We got lucky. The night I'd designated as "grape picking night" featured a thunderstorm that knocked the temperature down a good 20 degrees. All four of us went and my friend Lori came along too, just for giggles.

We picked several pounds of grapes and didn't put a dent in the supply at all. Left plenty for the birds. Lori and I drank some wine while Bridget and I pulled all the grapes off their stems.

Next day, I put them all in a pot of water and boiled them. They produce a crisp, sour juice of the most amazing clear magenta. Lovely!

I wound up with a couple of gallons of juice. Didn't think I'd get that much, had to go buy more mason jars and several more pounds of sugar.

It was a bit of trial and error. Don't ever let anyone tell you canning is an "exact" science because there is no accurate way of measuring any particular fruit's levels of sugar or natural pectin at any point during their ripening process.

I canned in waves and it took a couple of days, given the amount of juice I had. You need one big pot for sterilizing jars, one big pot for boiling the juice, sugar and pectin, and another big pot w/ a rack of some sort to "process" the jars once the product is sealed inside. This is what makes them bacteria-free and able to be stored without refrigeration for long periods of time.

That is a good thing, as I've now got twenty one pints of grape jelly. Sandwiches, anyone?

I did hold back some grape syrup from one of my experiemental batches. It was delicious on pancakes and even better added to a gin and tonic!

1 comment:

texasholly said...

So cool! I learned to can with my grandma one summer and hate to admit I haven't tried it again. But it was so much fun!