When you drive around in our area and see an old farmhouse, more than likely you will see a grape arbor not far from it. Our old farmhouse had two arbors years ago- one on either side of it. One arbor held green grapes and the other purple- concord, I assume. Unfortunately, they are no longer here. The old farmhouse two doors down from us has it's original arbor and it produces heavily each year. And, do you know what concord grapes like? Dry weather. Perfect.
I've been waiting for these beauties all year. Our strawberries didn't yield as we had hoped, so I only made one batch of jam. I made some peach jam when we canned peaches, but our trees aren't producing enough peaches for us yet, so I have to buy them. This is why I was making mint jelly this year and keeping my fingers crossed that we'd get grapes, too. Mint and grapes are free!
Grape jelly recipes require you to send your pulp/juice through a cheesecloth to get that lovely, clear jelly look. Grape jam recipes suggest you dice up the skins and throw them in. I wanted an in-between. I didn't want to mess with cheesecloth (and waste all that good pulp) and I didn't want to have to chew my jam (because of the skins). The compromise I made isn't rocket science, so maybe you all do this, too. But, in case you don't, here is a way to make your (hopefully free) grapes go further and use more of their grape-y goodness.
Concord Grape Jam
If you haven't canned much before, please read this before starting. I multiplied this recipe by four, so that is why my amounts will look different than yours.
Yields 8-9 half pints.
4 cups grape juice with pulp (no seeds or skins- see below), about 3 pounds of washed, de-stemmed Concord grapes
7 cups sugar (jam is jam, my friends)
1 pouch liquid pectin
Place your washed, de-stemmed grapes into a large sauce pan. Mash with a potato masher or large fork so that most of the skins slip off the the grapes. Bring to a boil, stirring often, then simmer for about 15 minutes until grapes are soft.
Your house will smell amazing. Transfer 2-3 cups of cooked grapes at a time to your food mill set over a large bowl.
Skins and seeds on left, food mill over bowl to catch juice/pulp on right.
Turn the mill to extract the pulp and juice. Repeat until all the grapes are "milled". Discard (or feed to your chickens) the skins and seeds. Measure your juice and pulp carefully to 4 cups.
Look at the color!
Place the 4 cups of juice/pulp back into your large saucepan. Stir in the sugar. Place on high heat, stir constantly, and bring to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.