At the beginning of last week I realised I was going to have way to many grapes on my vine to just eat them. A plan was needed to make sure they didn’t go to waste. Enter my friend Miss E, master jam and chutney maker, Goddess of sweet things you find in jars.
So after and with the aid of some internet research it was decided to make grape jam. This appears to be fairly common / popular in America but believe me it’s unheard of here in England. I’ve even started looking while out shopping and haven’t been able to find any on sale anywhere.
My lovely little vine is only a few years old. The previous vines were, ahem, eaten by Pebbles the dog just before reaching fruiting age. The variety is Leon Millot which I bought from Ken Muir and is often used to make wine. But since I’m more of a vodka girl the jam plan won out. There were a few very small bunches of grapes last year but boy oh boy what a haul this year. I took a few shots before I went in with my secateurs to start my little harvest.
I eventually stopped at half a stone of grapes, even though there were still some on the vine. I figured that should be more than enough and leaving some for wildlife seemed like a good idea! That said I’m not sure what wildlife I get in my garden that might eat grapes, but if there is any there is a treat waiting for them.
Then it was jam making time at Miss E’s……
As you can see we had quite a few grapes…
After washing and de-stalking them we got in there with our hands (not feet) and squished all the grapes. I can’t describe how strange but amazing it felt! Although there was some splattering (and screaming when the odd earwig and spider was found during the washing process) I was very impressed with how little mess we made.
The juice, flesh and pips were then brought to the boil and allowed to simmer. Some of the websites I’d read indicated that the pips would float to the top and could be easily skimmed of at this point – but it didn’t happen. We also came to the conclusion the pips wouldn’t be a problem, after all we both like the pips in other jams! Now there were mixed instructions on the websites I’d seen about adding water, so we ended up doing an experiment at this point. Add water to one batch and leave the other batch with just the juice.
The sugar was then added and there was more boiling.
Then it was pouring time (the pan without the water was ‘setting’ quickly but the other pan needed pretty much all the water to be boiled off, reducing the level back down to where it had been before we added the water).
We had a variety of jars waiting to receive their new syrupy contents…… Then the long wait began to see what it would be like, with hopes high after we licked out the pans. It tasted delicious.
1.Wash and de-stalk your grapes then weigh them.
2.Place in a large pan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes. We stirred occasionally but probably didn’t need to.
3.Add granulated sugar. We used half the starting weight of each pan. Bring slowly back to the boil stirring constantly until you can no longer feel any of the sugar on the base of the pan.
4.Boil hard from 5 minutes then start checking to see if it’s setting. (We checked every 2 minutes)
5.Once it starts to show signs of setting (see below) turn the heat off and start pouring into your prepared jars. Cover in a wax seal, plastic lid and secure with a rubber band.
6.Allow to cool and set over night before eating. (You can lick out the pan if you like tho… hehe)
Preparing the Jars…
The jars you use must be sterile inside or the jam won’t keep. To do this pour boiling water into them to sterilise and them place in a warm (about 100 Degrees C) oven until needed.
Testing for Setting…
Place a clean saucer in the freezer (or fridge if you don’t have a freezer) until you think that your jam might be ready. To test put a small amount of the jam mixture on the plate. leave for a few seconds and then push your finger through it. If is starts to for little ridges in front of your finger it’s ready.