Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bidding Farewell to Grocery Store Jelly

Our grapes are ready for harvesting, and I am determined to make good use of the produce as part of my Learning to Live Local on Less journey.

Less than half of the first round of harvest from one vine.
First step:  systematically clipping each stem of grapes off the vine as it becomes ready. 
Second step:  washing the grapes.  This is urban homesteading, folks, so my grapes have been entangled with Slurpee lids, chip bags, and other neighborhood litter.

Third step:  pluck each grape from its stem to prepare for processing.

Fourth step:  slightly boiling the grapes with a little water to extract more juice.  Plus, that rinsing just didn't calm my sanitation fears like a good boil!

This juice strainer was found at Meijer.
Fifth step:  strain the juice from the grapes.  Helpful hint:  do not allow grapes to accumulate in the strainer. They eventually become too heavy, causing the strainer full of grapes to fall into the bowl of scalding grape juice below.  This results in scalding grape juice splattering all over yourself and your kitchen.  Learn from my mistake!!

Sixth step:  boil grape juice with plenty of sugar and pectin. Stir until it thickens to the consistency you desire when pulled out and cooled on a spoon.  If you want it thicker and firmer, add more pectin. 

Seventh step:  put the jelly in storage containers.  I used canning jars and put them in the fridge. I did not fully process with a water bath, but I did sanitize the jars and boil the liquid.  Thus, all the lids sealed, and the contents will be fine for quite awhile considering the high sugar content and the refrigeration.

Hoping to master growing peanuts, so that next year our entire pb&j staple can be grown on our own little city plot.

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