Have you noticed when you are dating, you usually have “a type?” There is a certain look or personality trait that you just naturally gravitate towards.
I have always been attracted to guys with dark hair and thick eyebrows. I did occasionally date a blond, but looking back I’ve noticed most of my boyfriends fit that general description. If you look at pictures of The Husband, he totally fits the bill.
Me, on the other hand. I do not fit my husband’s type at all. At least not when we met. He is attracted to girls with long dark hair. This is a picture of us when we first started dating.
I have asked him several times why in the world he ever asked me out in the first place. He says it was because I had a nice, um well, nevermind . . .
When it comes to what flavor of jelly we like on our toast, we have different tastes there too. I always go for some type of preserves, preferably strawberry. I like the texture and the little bits of fruit. The Husband is a grape jelly fanatic all the way. I swear the cheaper the brand, the more he seems to like it.
In case you didn’t know, preserves and jam are made from the actual fruit while jelly is made from juice. I have made more jam this summer than we will probably be able to eat within the next year and in all sorts of flavors – peach, strawberry, rhubarb, blackberry. However, I knew once Concord grapes came in season I needed to try and make The Husband a batch grape jelly.
You can make grape jelly out of just about any kind of table grape, but some varieties tend to lose their “grapey” flavor once they are cooked down. Concord grapes do not, so that’s why they are perfect for making jelly and juice.
A few tools that are good to have on hand:
- Obviously, a large, deep stock pot to process your finished jelly.
- Basic canning utensils.
- A food mill. I bought one of these babies back in May so I could easily remove the seeds from fresh blackberries when I made one of our favorite drinks. Since then I have used it to remove the skins and seeds from tomatoes when making homemade tomato sauce. And I found it came in very handy when trying to get all the juice you possibly can out of your grapes.
- Cheesecloth. After you have your juice, there is a lot of sediment leftover. I tried running the juice through a paper coffee filter and this took forever! Plus, if I poured too much juice into the filter, my filter tore and I had to start all over. So cheesecloth seemed to be the most effective way. This did get a little messy, so I think next time I will purchase one of these. Have any of you used one?
- A damp cloth. Because if you are anything like me, at some point during this process you will splatter grape juice on something. In my case, white kitchen cabinets. If you have ever tried to remove spilled grape juice from carpets, clothes, whatever, then you know it stains. Big time! Wipe those spills up immediately!
- Come to think of it, might be a good idea to wear an apron for this too.
Another bad habit I have is skimming through a recipe rather than reading it all the way through. I’m sure none of you do that, but just in case I want to point out that your juice needs to refrigerate for 24 hours. Grape juice can form something called tartrate crystals. It’s not harmful and won’t affect the flavor, but it doesn’t look nice. So let your juice sit and then strain them out in the morning.
Then there is the easy way out. Just buy a bottle of no-sugar-added grape juice from the store and skip all this.
P.S. I was not approached by OXO, Ball, or Norpro to promote their products. However, if you click on one of the links above and purchase them from Amazon, I do make a small commission.
- 5 pounds Concord grapes, stems removed and washed
- 3-3 1/2 tablespoons low or no sugar needed pectin
- 4-1/4 cups sugar, divided
- 3 glass pint jars, with lids and bands
- Place the grapes in a large stockpot. Break open the grapes with a potato masher. Then add enough water to the pot to cover the grapes. Heat the pot over medium high heat until the water begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Let the grapes cool slightly. If desired, run the grapes, working in about three batches, through a foodmill using the medium-texture blade. Otherwise strain the grapes through a fine mesh colander and discard any leftover skins. Pour the juice into a container and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
- Strain juice through a double thickness of cheesecloth or a jelly strainer to remove any crystals or sediment.
- Fill a large stockpot or canner with enough water to cover the jars by 1-2 inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Fill a smaller saucepan with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Add the lids. *DO NOT BOIL YOUR LIDS*
- Wash jars and bands in soapy water. Rinse with hot water. Keep jars warm until you area ready to fill them. This prevents the jar from cracking or breaking when you fill them with the hot jelly.
- In the meantime, bring juice to hard rolling boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.
- In a small bowl, combine the pectin and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add the mixture to the pot and stir to dissolve. Return the mixture to a hard rolling boil.
- Add the remaining sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return to a hard roiling boil and allow to boil for 1 minute.
- Keep a metal spoon in a cup of ice water nearby. Test for thickness by placing a few drops of hot jelly on the spoon and allowing it to cool. Remember, the jelly will continue to thicken over the next 24 hours as it cools completely. Once jelly has reached desired thickness, remove pan from heat.
- Fill warm glass jars with the jelly, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.*
- Wipe the rims of the jar clean with a damp cloth. Place a lid on each jar and secure with a ring.
- Carefully place the jars in the canner or large stockpot. Once the water returns to a boil, cover and process the jars for 10 minutes.
- Remove jars from the canner. Place on a towel and allow to cool. Check seals after 24 hours. Immediately refrigerate any jars that do not seal.
*Headspace is the space from the top of the jar to the food or liquid in the jar. Too little headspace, and the food may boil over and prevent the lid from sealing. Too much headspace the jar may not seal properly because the processing time is not long enough to drive the air out of the jar. Food at the top of the jar may discolor.