Sunday, September 23, 2007

Even graper

The final tally is 28 quarts of juice and 14 half pints of jelly from 30 +/- pounds of grapes. I've read you can make fruit leather from the leftover grape pulp after straining the juice for jelly, but frankly I'm just too pooped to experiment with that idea this year.

Today we used the turkey fryer to process the jelly, and man, that thing heats up! It sounds like the space shuttle booster rockets, and cuts the time needed to heat up the boiling water bath to b
oiling by 2/3. I was a bit worried we were going to burn through the bottom of my aging canner but it survived.

We made one batch of low sugar jam using Ball No Sugar Needed pectin. I'd never tried it and was quite curious about what the final product would be like. It called for 4 cups of juice and I chose to use 3 cups of sugar, with a yield of 4 half pints. It set very firmly, and judging from licking up a few dribbles, tasted very flavorful and grape-y. I usually prefer a softer set so I'll be curious to try this batch later this fall. I wonder if more juice would result in a softer set and higher yield?

Our second batch made with Sure Jell pectin called for 5 cups of juice and 7 cups of sugar, and yielded 10 half pints. I did have a skibble over 5 cups of juice but decided to risk a softer set and use it all, since as I mentioned, I prefer a softer set jelly. I scraped out the pot thoroughly and Dan had it loaded in the dishwasher before I could sample a bit, I hope it's good!

I was a bit disappointed with our overall jelly yield. According to my Ball Blue Book, we should have had 12 cups of juice from 14 pounds of grapes, but we got only 9 cups of juice. I'm wondering if we used a food mill to process the juice if that would increase the yield. I'll have to try a different method next year and see what we get. I'm not sure I'd opt for jelly again, anyway, as the grape juice was divine.

One jar of grape juice failed to seal, so Dan and I sampled the juice for breakfast, and as far as I'm concerned, it tasted like nectar of the gods. That will be a special treat all winter, and you can bet that we'll be looking into pruning that grapevine to increase production next year.

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