Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Homemade Grape Jelly!

A few weeks ago, I attended my first book club meeting at our neighbor's cabin. We discussed "Peace Like A River," shared laughs, stories, and some of Faith's fabulous homemade jellies. Jodi and I were super excited when Faith offered to teach us how to make her homemade grape jelly! 

Last Thursday, I grabbed my camera and headed next door to meet 
Jodi and Faith for our first cooking class at the cabin!

Emery joined us for her first jelly class, too!

Emery did not appear to be quite as excited as we did over the massive coolers filled with fresh home-grown concord grapes! However, we knew she'd have a change of heart after her first taste of Faith's grape jelly.

Making the Juice:

While you can simply read and follow the instructions given to you with your box of SureJell (pectin), it sure helps to learn the tricks of the trade from a master!

Although it doesn't take many ingredients to make your own jelly, timing is everything.  Faith's tip of the day: have everything you need already out, measured, sterilized, melted, and ready-to-go before you start the gelling process! If it doesn't gel, it's not jelly.

• wash grapes
• pick grapes off of the stems
• fill large pot with grapes and add just a splash of water (maybe a half of a cup)
• simmer the grapes until the skins pop and the juices are cooked out (don't overcook)
• place your flour sack towel over a sturdy colander and place that over a heat-safe container to catch your juice
• slowly pour your grape juice into the colander
• measure your juice for the gelling process

• It's okay if your grapes are a variety of ripeness. It's actually a good thing! Pectin is naturally found in fruits and is what enables the gelling process. The less ripe the grape, the more pectin in the fruit.  

• Make sure to take your time on the straining process. Do not rush this step. While many people use cheesecloth over their colander, Faith prefers tea-cloth or a flour sack towel. 

Just look at that beautiful grape juice color!  

After you've measured enough juice for one batch, it's time to boil up your jelly! FIRST: double check your sugar measurement, have everything ready including: pectin, jars, lids, paper towel, a spoon and small dish, ladle, and a wide mouth funnel. 

Gelling Steps:
• Bring the juice and pectin to a rolling boil, heat on high and stirring constantly
• Once rolling boil and pectin is melted add sugar
• Sugar (Add sugar all at once)
• Bring to a Rolling Boil (keep stirring and set timer for 1 minute!)
• Boil for one minute
• Remove from heat 
• Skim foam from the top
• Pour or ladle hot jelly into your sterilized jars
• Skim any bubbles/foam from the top of your jelly and wipe the rim with damp paper towel. 
• Place lid and screw on top

• Take your time removing foam and pour slowly to keep foam from getting in your jelly jars.
• Save the warm foam and enjoy it on toast! If the foam starts to set up, you know your jelly is going to gel properly! Yippee!
• Carefully wipe the tops of your jars so that the lid isn't cemented down! 
• Place sterile canning lids on your jar and screw on the top. You'll hear it pop over time as the heat tightens and thoroughly seals your jelly jar. 
• When storing your jelly, you can remove the outer screw top and store your jelly with the flat lid only.

If you would rather use wax than canning lids, just pour 1/4-inch of paraffin wax over the top of your warm jelly in their sterilized containers. This wax will harden, forming a tight seal. While many people use the Ball canning lids, Faith prefers to use the wax method that she learned years ago from the women in her family. 

 and finally... the taste test! 
Lucky for us, Faith had an assortment of homemade jellies on hand ready to be tasted! We enjoyed the jelly making process and the time in the kitchen together. Without a doubt, you can't beat homemade jelly! 

Even Emery was impressed!
Faith sent us on our way with a jar of jelly each and a TON of grapes to practice our own jelly making! I'll let you guys know how it goes! 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, having awesome neighbors is a true blessing.  Our first year living in Iowa has been so much fun. Meeting amazing people makes for amazing experiences! 


Our Jelly Princess Mascot!

I had my camera out to record the jelly making process... but you know I couldn't help myself when Jodi showed up with Emery! I had to sneak a few photos of this cutie-patootie!

Coming soon:
 * Apple Pie *
* A Summer Recap: Family and Friends Visit the Farm *
* Our Trip to Minneapolis *

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