Why It Works
- Separating the grape skins allows them to be chopped in a food processor, resulting in a smooth-textured jam that sets up well without any added pectin.
- Softening the grape pulp with a 10-minute simmer makes it easier to separate and discard the seeds.
There are very few foods in this world that I truly hate, but one of them is grape jelly. I think it's fake-tasting, too sweet, and lacking in any true grape flavor. I cringe when my toast comes with those little purple packets at restaurants, and I prefer my peanut butter sandwiches with strawberry jam. And yet, the concord grapes look so beautiful at the farmers' market. One September day, I just couldn't resist buying bunch upon bunch.
Guess what? Homemade concord grape jam tastes nothing like the sticky-sweet supermarket kind. It has a deep, concentrated grape flavor, and is equally tart and sweet. As it was bubbling away on the stove, I couldn't help dipping my spoon into the pot again and again just to taste. This is from a woman who once wrote off a brunch spot with perfectly poached eggs because they only stocked grape jelly.
Since grapes naturally have a lot of pectin, it's not necessary to add any to this recipe. Just make sure you cook your jam to the gel stage and it should set nicely. Don't be intimidated by having to separate the grape skins from the pulp. It's actually quite simple. Just pinch the grape between two fingers and it should pop right out.
A jar of this jam would make an excellent fall harvest-inspired gift. Try it sandwiched between peanut butter cookies or swirled into banana bread batter.
Adapted from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.
8 cups concord grapes
6 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
Juice of half a lemon
If you are going to preserve the jam, prepare the jars and lids: place six half-pint jars on a rack in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the jars, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and allow jars to rest in the hot water. Meanwhile, put bands and lids in a small saucepan and cover with water. Heat over medium heat until the water is simmering, then remove pan from heat and allow the bands and lids to rest in hot water until ready to use.
Separate the grape skins from the pulp by squeezing the grapes between your fingers. Put the skins in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. Transfer them to a large heavy-bottomed pot and add 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the skins have softened a bit, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the grape pulp in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the grapes lose their shape, about 10 minutes. Pour the grape pulp through a fine-mesh sieve or food mill into a large bowl. Force out as much pulp as you can and discard the seeds.
Add grape pulp to the pot with grape skins and stir to combine. Add sugar, butter, and lemon juice and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until jam has reduced and thickened and reached the gel stage, about 45 minutes. To test the jam, put a small plate in the freezer. When it is chilled, spoon a bit of jam onto the plate and return it to the freezer for one minute. Drag your fingertip through the jam and tilt the plate from side to side. If the jam stays put and doesn't run, it's set. If not, simmer the jam for a few minutes more.
Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars, cover with lids, and screw bands on until just barely tight. Place jars on rack in pot and cover completely with water. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, uncover pot, and allow jars to rest in water for 5 minutes. Remove jars from pot and allow them to rest undisturbed on countertop for 6 hours or overnight.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 30g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||5%|
|Total Sugars 25g|
|Vitamin C 3mg||17%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|