Friday, October 14, 2011

Canning Jelly

While we were experiencing Major Toddler Meltdown yesterday, I did manage to squeeze in making two types of jelly: crabapple and grape.

I already had the juices prepared and sitting in the fridge, waiting for me to get my heinie in gear. 

To get the grapes ready, first we picked the wild grapes.  Then, following my Mom's instructions, I washed the grapes in the sink (leaving them attached to the stems).  After they were rinsed off, I put them into a tall stockpot, squished them down a little, and then covered them with water.  I simmered the grapes for about 30 minutes, going until the grapes burst.  Finally, I set up another stockpot, the colander, and a flour sack towel to strain the grape skins, seeds, and stems.  Viola!  Wild Grape Juice!

To get the crabapples ready, we picked the crabapples - read as having to stand in the lawn cart to reach most of them. :)  I used most of the crabapples in pickled crabapples.  I still had about 6 -8 quarts of apples left. I washed the apples in the sink.  Then, because they were little, I cooked them whole.  Into a deep stockpot, I put the washed crabapples and covered with water.  I simmered until the apples were tender.  Then I strained the same way I strained the apples grapes.  By leaving the apples whole, I was going to be able to take advantage of the natural pectin content of the tart apples and I got a rosy juice. 

Back to jelly making:  I started with the crabapple jelly.  According to the Ball Book of Canning, I was supposed to bring 5 cups of apple juice to a boil and add 5 cups of sugar.  Then, I was supposed to bring it back to a boil and let it get to 220 degrees F or until the jelly sheeted from the spoon.  Sounds simple, right?  The only thing I changed was that I had 8 cups of juice, so added 8 cups of sugar.  Then, I couldn't find my candy thermometer, anywhere.  So, figured I would cook it until it sheeted from the spoon.  How hard could that be, right? 
First, when I started to cook it, it had a rosy tint.  Then, I got a little concerned about the color.  Every other time I've cooked jelly, it's been a clear liquid.  This time, not so much.  It looked almost creamy.  After about 1/2 hour of stirring (when would this darn stuff ever get thick?) I finally called my Mom to ask her what she thought.  Darn, she was in a meeting.  Ok, back to square one and cross my fingers and hope.  So, I kept stirring and it kept boiling and kept looking funny.

Finally, after an hour of stirring, it finally was gelling and sheeting from the spoon.  So, I put it in jars and canned it.  Hoping......  Well, here is what it looks like in the jar - YEAH!  It's beautiful and a gorgeous rosy color.

Crabapple jelly
 Then, moved on to the wild grape jelly.  I was NOT looking forward to another hour of stirring jelly.  However, recipe was a little different.  Grapes do not have enough pectin to gel on their own, so this time the plan was to boil the 8 cups of grape juice with the two packages of pectin.  When it boils, dump in all 8 cups of sugar at once and bring back to a hard boil for a minute. Then put in jars and process.  Wow!  This only took about 20 minutes total to boil and then reboil.

Here's the grape juice on the stove.

Isn't this a beautiful color?

Whoa!  Good thing I put it in a large stockpot, because it got really high during the minute of rapid boiling.

Here's the extra jam, that I didn't want to put in a jar.  But this way, we can eat some of it right away.  The pink foam is just the foam from boiling. I don't like to skim it off.  (I'm lazy)

Here's the finished product.

And, they are both yummy!  Tried both of them on my breakfast toast!

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