Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's Concord Grape Time!-Updated

I might have gone a bit overboard in purchasing. I'll probably pick up a few more quarts to make freezer puree (I have a few recipes that use frozen Concord grape puree that I'll try to post while they are still in season). Living far away from the Finger Lakes region the grapes were a bit pricey, and you probably won't save much by making your own jelly and juice. Still, nothing in the supermarket can compare to the taste of Concord grapes you canned yourself.

The jelly recipe takes two days because the juice needs to sit 12-24 hours in the fridge. Grape juice has a tendency to develop crystals which need to be strained away the next day before canning.

I'll update the post when the canning is completed and I'll have a few pie recipes that use Concords as well. If you live in Eastern Nebraska, get your butt over to 180th and Q Street to the Hy-Vee before I buy them all (I made good on the promise to buy all the prune plums-I bought the last few pounds this morning). Hurry, hurry, hurry.

As an aside-does anyone know if the international shippers like UPS and Fed Ex use pressurized compartments in their planes? I'm trying to figure out if shipping jelly internationally would be worth it or if the seals would relax and then re-seal under pressure. Anyone have experience with this? I'd appreciate any advice.

More Concord-palooza tomorrow.

Day Two Update:

It is all done. I'll give you the recipe for the grape puree concentrate for the freezer and Concord Grape Jelly with pectin. I'll also provide a couple pie recipes at the end. After all was said and done, I ended up with an extra cup of grape juice which we intend to split three ways at dinner. The jelly is a two-day job because of the juice making, but well worth it. We sampled a bit of the leftover jelly in the pot and let me tell you, that is good stuff. Take that Smuckers!

For The Grape Jelly:

Prepare the juice a day ahead:

About 6 dry quarts of Concord grapes (best to make extra though you can add water if you run up short) washed, stemmed and slightly crushed with a potato masher.

For each liquid quart of fruit, add 1/4-1/2 cup water

Cover the pot and simmer until fruit is soft-about 20 minutes. Strain through a jelly bag. Note-this will go slowly after the initial liquid drops through. It can take an hour. Place strained juice, covered in the bowl in the fridge and let stand 12-24 hours. Strain through jelly bag again to extract any crystals that might have formed. Prepare the jelly as follows:

For 8 half pint jars:

Prepare jars and lids for canning following USDA safety guidelines.

You Will Need:

4 cups prepared grape juice
7 cups of sugar (not a typo)
1 pouch liquid pectin

Put grape juice in a large pot. Add the sugar stirring until completely dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add pectin and bring back to a full rolling boil. Cook 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat. ladle into 1/2 pint jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps and process in boiling water caner ten minutes. Remove lid and kill the heat. Let cool five more minutes in canner. Remove to towels to cool 12-24 hours before testing for seals.

For The Frozen Grape Puree:

The recipe for the puree comes from my 1960 edition of The Farm Journal Freezing And Canning Cookbook. Many of the recipes do not follow current canning guidelines but can be adjusted to modern methods and it is a wonderful book to own. The freezer puree is easy enough and though I stored it in freezer-safe glass jars, you may wish to use bags or plastic containers better suited to today's freezing methods (I like jars because they keep a neat freezer without bags slipping around.

The puree is a bit of work as you have to put the grapes through a food mill. Three dry quarts of grapes yielded five half pints of puree but you really need to extract every last drop of pulp from the skins. As I removed the skins and seeds from the food mill to grind the next batch I set the discards aside in a bowl and at the end put them through again-to my shock, it yielded quite a bit of extra pulp.

Makes 5 half pint jars of puree:

Wash and stem grapes. In a large kettle, heat the grapes8-10 minutes over low heat (not over 145 degrees F.). Do not boil. When skins begin to loosen, put the grapes through a food mill. Discard skins and seeds. Pour puree into clean jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Seal label and date. The puree can be used in numerous recipes including the fluffy grape pie at the end of the post. A note-I have not made the fluffy grape pie, but expect to later this week, so if you are viewing this without a photo, check back for an update before making it-or prepare at your own risk. The Concord grape mini-pies and fruit topping I have made.

Fluffy Grape Pie:

1 cup grape puree, thawed enough to measure
1/4 cup water
1 3 ounce package lemon gelatin
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped
1 baked 9 inch pie shell

Bring grape puree and water to a boil. Stir in gelatin until dissolved. Add sugar and mix well. Chill until mixture mounds when dropped from the spoon, stirring occasionally. Beat until fluffy. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into pie shell. Chill at least two hours or overnight. Serve topped with additional whipped cream.

Foe Concord Grape mini-pies (that were mind-bogglingly delicious) click HERE. The filling is versatile and also made a killer ice-cream topping. Photos accompany post.


Why? said...

I too love Concord grapes. Your fluffy grape pie looks so good...can't wait to try.

Goody said...

I hope you like it. I made it for Thanksgiving last year, and I suspect it will be expected from now on. It is deceptively light.