Homemade Concord Grape Jam

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We have had a very successful grape growing season and have spent most of the holiday weekend making homemade Concord grape jam.
When our children were little, we used to pick produce like strawberries, blueberries, and apples together and then can the fruit as time allowed. Now that our days are a bit busier, it seems we have little time to do some of the things we so enjoyed years ago.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, our grape vines were bursting with beautiful ripe Concord grapes so we picked them all to prepare them for canning. M was a real trooper and helped me pick and prepare the grapes on Saturday. While we still have quite a few more jars to process, we have adopted a system that seems to work quite well so we should have everything processed soon. I have made two separate recipes to satisfy different family tastes. One that is a traditional Concord Grape Jam recipe and the other is a tart Reduced Sugar Concord Grape Spread that M seems to enjoy. I will post both for those that might be interested. These recipes are found on the Sure-Jel package and are tested as safe by Sure-Jel. Always use a reputable source (USDA, Ball, Sure-Jel, etc.) for recipes and follow strict food safety guidelines when home canning.

Homemade Concord Grape Jam

5-6 cups fresh grape juice (about 3 1/2 pounds of Concord grapes)
1 box of Sure-Jel pectin
7 cups sugar

First make the grape juice by washing 3 1/2 pounds of fresh Concord grapes.

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Mash grapes with a potato masher to break open the grape skins.

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Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 10 minutes. The cooking time starts only after the mixture has come to a boil.

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Strain to squeeze out all the juice with a sieve.

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In a large pan, put 5 cups of the juice. Add the fruit pectin to the juice; mix well. On high heat, bring to a full rolling boil, and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar all at once, and bring back to a full rolling boil, again boil hard for 1 minute stirring constantly. At this time, you can add 1 or 2 teaspoons of butter to help keep the foam down.

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Remove from heat, skim off foam and pour into hot jars; put on hot lids.
Process in hot water bath for 5 minutes.

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Reduced Sugar Concord Grape Spread

5 cups Concord Grape Juice
1 box of Ball (No Sugar or Reduced Sugar) pectin
1 cup sugar

Follow the directions as listed above. This makes a very tart, but slightly sweet version of Concord Grape jelly. You will notice that it is more of a spread than a jelly because of the reduced sugar content.

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It’s Pickin’ Time

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It’s Pickin’ Time!
Several years ago, we planted a few grape plants on a fence that divides our property from our neighbors. This is actually the first year that we have had success in growing a sizable crop of Concord grapes. In the past, as the late summer heat would coax the grapes to ripen, the deer would wait for the opportune time to mosey over to the vines and demolish the crop in one short evening. M and I would get giddy over the dark purple grapes that were just about ready to be picked and the very next day, they would be completely gone…ripped from the vines by the much more experienced deer.
As my husband was out mowing the lawn this weekend, he noticed that the majority of our grapes were just about ready to be harvested. M and I grabbed all of the available baskets and headed outdoors to pick our crop. We were delighted with the over abundance of fruit. My hubby even joined in knowing that we only had a small window of time to pick the fruit before the deer would come along and swallow up the lot.
This long holiday weekend will bring lots of late summer heat but I am anxious to get my grapes prepared to make batches of Concord grape jelly. While I have been canning for years, I have never tried processing seeded grapes to make jelly. I always rely on the Ball Blue Book to carefully and safely process canned goods. Since this is the first year that we have had a sizable crop, I have searched for recipes all over the Internet. I think I have settled on one or two that I will try. If any of you have a great grape jelly recipe or a few tips that you would like to share…please do so in the comments section of this post. I am hoping to successfully report back in a future post, news about the products of my labor.

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