Monday, October 22, 2012

Hedgerow Gifts

This weekend I was given about 20 litres of concord grapes, that's with the stems on.  Even after washing and stemming....that was still a whole lot of grapes.  Concords taste very similar to Sovereign Coronation grapes (which are the kind we grow) but the differences are that Concords are less sweet eating out of hand and they have seeds.

The seeds aren't a problem, in fact they're very good for you, but they don't jam very well so I had to seed the grapes to be able to make jam out of them.  This added a bunch more work (but who am I to turn down free hedgerow food).  To make jam with seedless grapes you just throw them in a pot and mash, but with seeds you first have to squeeze out the pulp, cook the pulp separately from the skins, then sieve it to remove the seeds, add it to the pot with the skins and cook some more.  The end result however was very, very nice.

Out of all of those grapes I was able to make a batch of regular jam, a batch of 1/2 sugar jam, a batch of regular jelly and a batch of very low sugar jelly, that was 22 250ml jars all together.  To make jams and jellies with less sugar, I used "Bernardin, no sugar needed pectin" and it worked very well.  I could not believe how much sugar went into making jelly.  For the regular recipe I used 4 cups of juice and 6 3/4 cups sugar!!!!  That's not grape jelly...that's grape flavoured sugar!!!!  With the next batch I tasted the juice and realized that it didn't taste THAT tart without sugar but I did want a little, so I added only 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of juice.  Wow, what a that's grape jelly!  I don't think I'll use full sugar recipes ever again, I'm so happy with both the 1/2 sugar jam and the low, low sugar jelly.

I was also able to do something this weekend that almost never happens....I was able to sit at my wheel and spin for a couple of hours, catching up on shows that I'd missed and waiting for a hearty stew to bake in the oven.  That was very nice.

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