There’s something so soothing and meditative about squishing grapes that I never thought possible! That’s the surprise I discovered when I sat down with my two pounds of Concord grapes. Two pounds is not alot but too much to eat. Since we made the effort to grow them, it’s hard to waste them. I am not fond of making jelly. It seems like SO much work. My head gets boggled and quirky just thinking about it. Jamming is no breeze either, but seems like the less evil of the two.
I resigned myself to a bunch of work. But I tried to make it as easy and pleasant as possible. I took the lot into my sun room and sat down with them. There’s no easy way of skinning them except squishing them one by one. I did not rush. I tried to watch/listen to video on YouTube but found it not enjoyable. I gave that up for just sitting in the sunlight, squishing one purple grape after another, watching them plop into the pot on my lap. In a little while I was overcome with peace and contentment. My body said, Boy, I feel good! WOWZIE!
It took a couple of hours to jam two pounds of grapes from squishing to jarring. The result was two little jars of purple jam. No boiling bath was necessary. They will be eaten soon enough or into the freezer they go. The PROCESS was slow and enjoyable but not difficult. The only difficult part was STARTING.
The recipe I followed, more or less:
4 lbs Concord, wild or other seeded purple grapes
1/2 cup water
1 cup raw sugar (organic turbinado)
pinch sea salt
Rinse grapes, stem them, then rinse again (especially if yours are wild or homegrown and covered in sandy Downeast soil, spider webs and slugs like mine). Peel grapes by pinching each one (at the end opposite to the stem end is easiest) and allowing the grape innards to plop out into a medium (4-quart) stockpot or Dutch oven (this is far easier than it sounds; 3 lbs of grapes took me a leisurely 15 minutes to peel). Keep the grape skins in a separate bowl.
Bring the grape innards and any juice to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer until grapes begin to disintegrate, releasing seeds, about 10 minutes. Pour into the bowl of a food mill. Rinse the stockpot, add grape skins and 1/2 cup water, and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer grape skins, partially covered, until soft and breaking down, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, pass grape innards through the food mill; discard grape seeds. Add grape pulp, sugar and salt to the grape skins. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then continue to cook at a brisk boil (lowering heat if jam begins to stick) until the gel stage (mine never reached 220 degrees F; I stopped it at 216 degrees when it formed a wrinkly set on a frozen plate).
Ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Pass a wooden utensil along the sides of the jars to remove any bubbles, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.