This year, for the first year, we have an inordinate number of grapes (Concord, I believe) that have come (oh, how I love that moment when words suddenly make epiphanic sense) to fruition. In previous years either Ratticus has eaten much of the harvest while it was still green or the vines just didn't feel particularly ambitious; I don't know. But this, our fifth full summer in the house, the grapes have been so prolific that it has been impossible to ignore them. And so, despite not being such a fan of grape jelly, I insisted that we should make jelly. Or jam. We used this Concord Grape Jam recipe so I guess it's jam though it seems to me that if you cook it twice and strain it midway through it should be jelly. Whatever. Make with the photos.
Here you see the washing and de-vining stage:
And below are the basic ingredients: grape innards, lemon juice, sugar, and grape skins, some of which had, when this photo was taken, been "pureed" in the handy black&decker chopper which fills the role of "food processor" in our kitchen.
Next up, all the ingredients get combined in a pot and cooked pretty much until it's all deliquesed. This was one of the selling points of this recipe over the other one found by googling "Concord grape jam recipes"; it didn't require cooking the grape skins separately from the guts. It also had a better grape to sugar ratio (and used a lot more grapes: 5 pounds vs. 8 cups). After cooking, we put the whole mess through the newly purchased food mill. If we'd spent this $34.95 plus tax before we made the blackberry jam, we'd have a lot more blackberry jam now. I suddenly adore the inventor of the food mill.
After putting the contents of Pot A through the food mill and thus into Pot B, you put Pot B onto the stove and cook the contents until they pass the "cold plate test" which happened a lot more quickly than we expected. For the cold plate test you drop a teaspoon of jam mixture onto a plate you've had in the freezer and then let it sit in the freezer for a minute. If the "mound" of jam then slides as a single unit when you tilt the plate then the jam is sufficiently jelled and you can move onto ladling the stuff into properly prepared jars. This is the least ambiguous test I've ever encountered in the cooking world. I heart it, I do. Of course, I didn't take a photo until after we'd done a taste test or two. Also, below right, the jam ready to be ladled into prepared jars:
Below, the seven half-pint jars once they'd been filled, lidded, processed in a hot bath, and labeled. And, hell, stacked into a pyramid.
But in Mme. Gradka's kitchen, no job is truly finished until the staff has cocktails: