Quick and Easy Concord Grape Jam
This post is by Full Circle’s resident Farm Foodie – Debra Dubief
Home preserving, as rewarding as it can be, takes a good amount of time. For most of us it means dedicating one of our weekend days to it. A pleasurable pursuit to be sure but, for a great many of us (yours truly leading that pack) 99% of the time it’s too much of an undertaking. So instead of just missing out on seasonal treats like tomato chutney, pickled anything or fresh Concord grape jam, I am more often considering these to be fleeting seasonal pleasures rather than off-season stockpiles.
I also don’t get too gung-ho about every amazing thing that comes along — especially in the summer when the abundance of variety is incredible. Now that we are firmly in autumn’s grip, it’s a little easier to focus. Seasonal gems like Concord grapes sparkle like the last rays of summer sun from whence they came and I couldn’t wait to take some home. I feel certain I’ve had these before, but after popping a few in my mouth I couldn’t recall having ever tasted the original flavor inspiration for all those sticky purple candies and sodas.
As soon as I tasted that quintessential grape flavor I was reminded of all those overly-sugared commercial jams that my kids love and I almost never buy. But I wouldn’t mind them getting their grape jam fix from fresh, organic Concords. I might even score some serious points with that. And since I only had three pounds of grapes I was guaranteed to not end up with any more jam than I could cram into our refrigerator.
Scouting around for a simple recipe proved to be a bit more challenging. It seemed like everyone felt the need to peel their grapes. Seriously? Having winnowed down my “canning” expectations, I was not about to trade that time savings for grape peeling! There had to be a shortcut that would still yield a respectable jam. Sometime later as I was flipping through my October issue of Food and Wine my intuition was confirmed. There was a fantastically simple recipe for grape “jelly” – here I’d been searching for “jam” all this time.
What I ended up with isn’t exactly jam, nor is it jelly; perhaps it’s preserves. We just call it “delicious” and pretty soon we’ll call it “gone.” Sure we may momentarily lament the end of this month’s treat, but we know there will most certainly be something wonderful to follow.
This makes a very rustic jam that we all loved. The purpose of the apple with the seeds is to add natural pectin. The original recipe called for a Granny Smith, but I used a McIntosh apple and imagine any apple that is not too sweet would work. I bet you would come up with something pretty yummy even if you left the apple out.
Easy Concord Grape Jam Recipe
3 pounds ripe Concord grapes, stemmed (approx. 7 1/2 cups)
1 tart apple, chopped, with seeds
1 2/3 cups sugar
Put the grapes and apple in a large pot and add 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat until very juicy, about 20 minutes. Strain the fruit mixture through a colander or strainer set over a large bowl. Ideally you want something with holes that are just small enough to catch the grape seeds, but large enough to allow a lot of the pulp to pass through. Press the solids through the colander or strainer to capture as much as you can.
In a very large saucepan, boil the strained grape juice and pulp with sugar over moderate heat, stirring, until the mixture falls off a cool spoon in sheets and registers 220 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer, about 20-30 minutes.
Pour the “jammy” into clean heat-proof jars. Let cool completely, top with lids and refrigerate.