Saturday, September 22, 2007
Jelly, jelly, jelly for my belly
All I have managed to make this week is JELLY...lots and lots of grape jelly. But, it is the best darned concord grape jelly to ever pass the lips of man or beast. No Welch's for us here. All our jelly is made from the fruit of our 75 year old vines that grow on the arbor at our Long Island home.
Since I describe the process for everything else, why not this?
We picked over 30 pounds of washed and sorted grapes (so the actual picked amount before culling was probably more like 70 lbs). We have to sort them and pick over them carefully, because we find little guys like this:
Isn't he cute? We named him and all his tiny snail brethren George and set them free in the compost pile.
We then squashed them and boiled them into juice. The boiled mash gets filtered twice. The juice then has to sit in a tall container for at least 12-24 hours so that the sediment and the tartaric acid crystals settle out of the liquid and fall to the bottom, otherwise you get crunchy and cloudy jelly.
We then made two batches (with one more to follow today) of jelly by pulling 8 cups of juice (per batch) and mixing it with 6 cups of sugar, boiling it, boiling it and boiling it some more while carefully monitoring the temperature and constantly testing it for reaching the "jelly point".
My husband claims that I have Jelly Performance Anxiety, as I am always convinced at some point in the process that our grapes didn't have enough natural pectin and that they will NEVER become jelly. This is in fact a VERY good gauge of when the jelly will happen, because about 3 minutes after my declaration that the batch is HOPELESS AND WILL NEVER SET UP....it does. Every time.
SO now we have jelly...for us, for our neighbors' children, for my friends at work, for family. We also still have about 200 lbs of grapes on the vine, which would probably be enough to do 40 more half pints of jelly, but there is only so much jelly one woman can make. Any winemakers out there? Wanna come pick some grapes? Please?
Cause next week we make Fig Jam....