I realised the other day that I haven’t made any jam or chutney this summer. The previous couple of years I made so much – actually went a little overboard – and somehow this year I didn’t feel the urge to preserve anything at all.
Until I surfed the BBC Good Food website, which made me think that I really had to do some preserving because I just love doing that and then being able to enjoy something summery later in the year as well as having home-made gifts at hand.
I found a recipe for grape jelly, went shopping after work, and started the preparations right away.
My first try went a little awry, though. The recipe said 450 g jam sugar. In Germany we have different types of jam / gelling sugar, you choose according to the fruit : sugar ratio you want to have, so there’s 1 : 1, 2 : 1 and 3 : 1. The recipe also said that I’d be getting 600 ml liquid out of the grapes, but I only got 450 ml. So I thought I needed to adjust the amount of the gelling sugar accordingly. Which was a mistake, because I was using the 1 : 1 variety, and not normal sugar. So when I filled the jelly into glasses, I thought it seemed a bit too liquid, even though I’d cooked it longer than required. I decided to take the chance.
The next day, though, it was still completely liquid, so I chucked it back into a saucepan, added more gelling sugar, and cooked it for another 5 minutes. This time it worked, the jelly finally had the right consistency. To my taste, that made it a touch too sweet, so next time – there will definitely be a next time, because I really liked the taste of this – I’ll use the 2 : 1 gelling sugar.
If anyone wants to try the original recipe, you can find it here.
1 kg red grapes, with seeds
1:1 gelling sugar
juice of 1 lemon
Slowly heat grapes in a large saucepan, then cover and leave to simmer for 5 minutes until juices start to run.
Mash up grapes with a fork or potato masher. Cook for 10 more minutes, mashing every now and again, until the grapes are falling apart.
Set a sieve over a bowl, pour in the grape mixture, and let drip through for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
Measure out the juice and pour it into a pan along with the gelling sugar and lemon juice. When using a 1:1 gelling sugar, you need to use the same amount of sugar as the amount of juice you got out of the grapes. Set the pan over high heat and bring to the boil. As the mixture boils, skim any scum building on the surface. Let the mixture boil until the temperature reaches 105C°. If you’ve made jam before, you’ll actually see from the consistency if it’s ready.
Pour the jelly into sterilised jars.
Not owning a potato masher, I used a fork to mash the grapes, which was rather tedious. Note to self: buy potato masher!
It took more like 25 minutes for the grapes to fall apart, maybe because my pot wasn’t wide-based enough and there were too many grapes on top of each other.
The 450 ml juice I got out of the grapes made for 2 x 290 ml jars of jelly.