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  • Jennifer Stewart

My Grape House


I remember the first house that we lived in on 7th Street. White Stucco with black gutters, 2 bedrooms, a very small kitchen with brown cabinets and a huge basement. We lived there until I was 6 years old and I’m truly amazed at what I remember at that age. I remember sharing a room with my sister and all the stuffed animals we had together. I remember falling back in the dining room chair and busting my tongue open and getting stitches. I also remember trying to run away once when my Grammy was visiting because I got into trouble. I got grounded from my dad at one point because I crossed the street with my bike when he told me not to. And the time I tried Sauerkraut for the first time and I refused to eat it and my mom made me sit at the table after everyone got up to eat one more bite. I remember our ugly orange couch. I remember our next door neighbors, Hoot and Hazel. Hazel made the best fried chicken. And I remember the maple tree that we planted in the front yard with my grandpa that still stands great big 36 years later.

Something, too, that sticks out in my brain about living in that house is my Mom. I see her in that house… in every room. I have memories of her on the phone in the hallway with my Grandma and in the kitchen making things. I have this wonderful memory of her making Grape Jelly. She hung bags of cheese cloth from the cabinets as they were stained with purple. Purple everywhere.

It’s summer here and Grapes are in season. Today I started the process of making Grape Jelly… grapes freshly picked from an old wine vineyard not far from our house. So here we are… destemmed, crushed, good ol’ fashioned concord grapes set to be hanging from my kitchen cabinets. I got this mom.

Thank you www.shelovesbiscotti.com for this delicious recipe. It makes me feel right at home.

Ingredients

Extracting the juice:

  • 3 pounds grapes removed from their stems and washed

  • 1/2 cup water

Making the jelly:

  • 4 cups extracted grape juice

  • 7 cups sugar granulated

  • 1 pouch fruit pectin

STEP 1: THE PREPARATION

  • Canning jars need to be washed and sterilized Lids also need to be sterilized; just 10 minutes in simmering water is all it takes. Leave them in the water until you need them.

  • Grapes need to be properly rinsed, stemmed and crushed. With the help of a potato masher, I crush the grapes. In total we need about 3 pounds of grapes which have been removed from their stems.

STEP 2: THE EXTRACTING of the GRAPE JUICE

  • Once your grapes have been crushed, place them in a large saucepan along with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to allow the grapes to simmer for approximately 10 minutes, covered. Stir occasionally.

  • In the meanwhile, set your cheesecloth in a over a heatproof bowl. Pour prepared fruit and liquid in the strainer and allow to drip for a couple of hours. You need four cups of this strained liquid.

STEP 3: THE MAKING of GRAPE JELLY:

  • It’s extremely important to measure the right amounts of grape juice and sugar– otherwise, your jelly may turn out too thick or too thin.

  • At this point, you need to bring your mixture to a boil, add in the pectin and stir for exactly one minute. Once that is done, remove the pot from the heat and skim the foam for approximately 5 minutes.

STEP 4: THE CANNING

  • The final part is just pouring your Homemade Concord Grape Jelly in your sterilized jars. Remember to leave about 1/4 inch of head space. Place a sterilized lid and screw on the top

I’ve been looking for a good summer “Roll Down Your Windows” kind of song to go with this recipe in addition to making you have a little laugh. And I’ll give credit to my husband in helping me locate this fantastic song. The Flaming Lips song, She Don’t Use Jelly. In this particular case, this song doesn’t really have to mean anything except that it’s a good “jam” while you do all your preparations for canning and it takes me back to a very good time in my life. Please enjoy this dance in your kitchen.

A lot of time has passed since we lived in that house… so much so that I feel like it was another lifetime ago. And now here I am standing in my log cabin kitchen trying to hang up my mashed up grapes in an old pillow case from my own cabinets. I’m a mom now too and I love the thought of creating a fond memory for my kids in this kitchen like the one my mom gave me. She definitely gave me many of them, but seeing those cheesecloths dyed with purple hanging from those ugly brown cabinets was just perfect. Purple Grape kind of perfect.


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