My grandmother has a friend who is very self sufficient and grows most of her own fruit and veg. Think Tom and Barbara from the old TV series The Good Life and you get the idea. She has just had a large harvest of black grapes, more than she could use herself and so gave some away to family and friends. I love how my bunch came with some leaves still attached and even a few wisps of cobweb from the spiders who like to live amongst the vines – you can’t get more natural than that!
The grapes themselves had crisp skins, were plump and very juicy. They had a good flavour, although it was a little sharp. The grapes also contained small seeds which after being used to seedless grapes from the supermarket, were a bit of a surprise. Due to this I decided to turn my bunch of grapes into grape jam/jelly. I say jam/jelly because here in the UK we call our fruit spreads jams, although I know in America they known as jellys. Now I would normally stick to calling it a jam but as the fruit in question is grape I feel I should also call it jelly because as far as I know we (in the UK) do not make any jam using grapes but I know it is a very popular fruit jelly in America. Keeping up so far?
I have never tasted grape jam/jelly before and was excited about trying it out with some peanut butter in another much loved America classic, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I am happy to report that it is a delicious combination.
I loved how vibrant and glossy the resulting jam/jelly turned out, the colour of a light red wine. My jam/jelly turned out softly set, suitable for easy spreading or pouring over yoghurt, but if you want more of a thick spread then I suggest using equal quantities of sugar to fruit.
I made little labels for the jars and gave one away to the friend who provided the grapes and I was rewarded with another bunch. I think I have read of an Italian grape tart somewhere, so that might be next on the list.
Grape Jam / Jelly
850g black grapes
650g caster sugar
1 tbsp water
Cut the grapes in half and remove any seeds if necessary.
Place the grapes into a large saucepan with the juice of the lemon and the tablespoon of water.
Heat gently with the lid on for 10 minutes until the juices have been released from the grapes and they are turning soft.
Add the sugar and stir until all the granules have dissolved. Then replace the lid, leaving it slightly off to allow steam to escape.
Allow to simmer for 40-50 minutes until slightly reduced and syrupy.
Meanwhile, wash and dry 4 jam jars in hot soapy water and then place them in a cold oven and turn it on to 160C and heat for 15 minutes to sterilise the jars.
Test the jam for setting by placing a small spoonful of the jam onto a saucer and place in the fridge for 5 minutes until cool. Then run a finger through the middle of jam and if it is ready it will ripple on either side. If it ripples, remove the jam from the heat, if its too runny, then continue heating for a further 10 minutes before repeating the test.
Remove the jars from the oven and immediately ladle the jam into the jars. Be careful the jam will be extremely hot! Screw the lids on using rubber gloves (the jar will be too hot to hold).
Leave the jars to cool before storing in a cool dark place. Refrigerate once opened.
Makes 4 x 425g jars.
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