Cooking takes me to my happy place. When I am stressed, sad, bored, worried, I cook. This year I decided to tame grape vines that are growing behind my garage. These things get big and have taken over the hill in the past, so I decided to harness their power with trellises and trimming.
I DIYed some pretty pathetic trellises with my brothers help; I grossly underestimated the strength of a determined grape. I started wrapping the big vines on to the trellis, and then went on vacation for two weeks. When I came back, the vines were everywhere. They definitely liked the trellis, but again they took over the hill. Next year, I will have to keep on top of them, and build a bigger trellis.
I have harvested probably forty pounds of grapes from this Eden. For those of you grape aficionados, you my may be interested to know that I had two different types of grapes. One is a big concord, and the other is a small dark purple grape, I have no idea what those are! To chronicle every moment with those forty pounds of grapes would take ages, so I am breaking down the steps of my recipe to show you what I did.
Jamming Out: My recipe with Anecdotes
I used the following mix of recipes to make a delicious jam. I am not a chef by any stretch, but I have found that my food turns out best if I take the advice of several people. I used tips and ideas from the following expert, cook bloggers! Local Kitchen, Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice, We are Not Foodies Each of these had a little something that helped me to create yummy grape jam with less sugar. If you want to try this canning insanity, I would read them all!
This kind of cooking is my favorite because it is hard to do things wrong! This is the ingredient list from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice, just doubled. The steps are more of a mix of all of the recipes.
- 5 pounds grapes
- 1 ½ C water
- 2 C sugar
- 1 box of pectin
- Take all of the grapes off of stems and wash them.
I truly love canning, but let me show you how this went down. You can see the pile of grapes I started with, now I had to get them each off of the vine, and cleaned. I like to set up my laptop next to the sink and binge watch something. Stranger Things on Netflix is particularly engaging! It takes me about two hours to get 5 pounds of grapes off of the vine. Secretly, I love doing this task because it gives me a reason to watch TV and not feel guilty!
- Boil the grapes in the water. 40 minutes (Times vary a lot between recipes, but I am not sure you can boil too long!)
The concord grapes smell like a freshly opened bottle of red wine, and the smell grows each time you stir them! Nirvana!
If you find them in the store, buy them!
Step 3 is optional: You can strain out all of the seeds if you want. This blog talks about powdering seeds and using them like flax seeds, though I am not skilled enough to do that! However, I will be leaving seeds in, and enjoying the crunch knowing it adds healthy benefits! It is no different than blackberries or chia seeds in smoothies, and I even put it on crunchy multi-grain bread, so you can’t tell if it’s the bread or jam crunching.
- Run the boiled mixture through a food processor to make the seeds tiny enough to just add crunch to your jam. (I ran the pulp through the colander again after food processing, and was able to sort out any leftover whole seeds.)
I wish that the step above went as smoothly as I wrote it, but I had a mishapl. When I went to ground the seeds, I thought, “I’ll use the blender.” Here is where any intelligent adult would have said, “STOP, No! The liquid is boiling and thus hitting that blend button will cause the top to blow off!” Unfortunately, at this point, there was no one there to give me this solid advice. I put the liquid in, hit blend, and shot jam everywhere! I mean everywhere on the cabinets, the floor, in my knife block, on my wine bottles, and all over the counter. I chuckled at my obvious stupidity, but wanted to cry realizing how much jam I lost. Don’t make this mistake. Use a food processor with the locking lid. Unfortunately, I cleaned this up before taking a picture because I originally planned to hide my blunder from the world…
- Return the food processed juice and pulp to the pot, and add the sugar and pectin. Simmer all of the ingredients for about 25 minutes.
Follow the experts’ tips, and put a plate in the freezer. If the boiling jam gets hard or turns to jelly when you wipe it on the plate, it is done! I made some mistakes in this step. With my forty pounds of grapes, I made lots of batches of jelly. Many of them were basically syrup not jam. You can’t tell that for sure until after it is canned and sealed. Don’t make that mistake you have to put it back in the pot and boil it again to fix this!
- I now followed all of the steps for canning!
Cinnamon Spice and Everything nice shows you how to just cool and store this jam. She says it lasts two months if you don’t process it.
Canning was the most successful part of this process for me. Read the directions in the pectin you buy, and you will have success!
I am only factoring one batch of grapes here, but I bought supplies for 4-5 batches at one time so I will do my best to estimate accurately.
- $2 for 12 pack of lids (I already had rings from last year.)
- $2 for pectin
- I always have sugar on hand, so I didn’t calculate that. (I bet it is 20 cents worth of sugar, since I buy it in bulk.)
- I have all of the canning supplies already, but a basic tool kit is reasonable. Here is one for $34.99 from Target.
- Jars can be expensive, but remember you use them from year to year. Here are Target prices, but jars are different prices depending on the size. $8-$12ish for 12
TOTAL – $14 for lids, pectin, sugar and jars
TIME – 4 hours 30 minutes (You can do two or more batches simultaneously in this time if you have enough pots).
- 2 hours to de-vine
- 2 hours to cook
- Canning takes 10 minutes to get the jam in the jar, and lids on.
- In Colorado, where I live, you have to adjust canning/processing time for altitude, so 30 minutes per batch.
The numbers are a little fuzzy, but you can decide whether it is worth it!
- $14 – for new ingredients, lids and jar
- 4 hours and 30 minutes of work
I made 3 pints of jam in each batch of five pounds. (Remember I started with 40 pounds of grapes so that is 8 batches!)
A pint of organic jam from target for $3.99.
After processing my forty pounds and having a great time, it will be 24 pints at $4 each that is $72. From the store it would be around $96 plus tax.
I have organic jam I made myself, and it tastes amazing! In this instance, time is what you have to give to make it happen. I think it is well worth my time to have tasty jam that is healthier than store bought. I will have jam all through winter when I am done canning, and I made it all myself! GO DIYing!