Monday, February 12, 2007

Glory, the grape

We noticed a tang of richness, bordering on decay, on our back deck on Saturday. It was the grapes from our vine, only planted two years ago, ripening a little too much (regular readers know that lately my garden has been neglected).

So, what to do with kilos and kilos of grapey fecundity? We ate as many as we could. Then I found a recipe for grape jelly. This wasn't something anyone was really happy about, except me, as I've been known to be an enthusiastic but haphazard cook and in fact I've never had jam set. Richard appeared dubious & hovered about. I promised to follow a recipe and not go my own way (a public service psychological exam once said I was neither a team player nor a leader).

First, boil the grapes (2 kilos) with three sliced lemons, until the grape peels start to come away from the flesh.

Then strain the mixture through some cheesecloth, overnight. Overnight! Outrageous. I like things to be instant. Oh well... now, I couldn't work out how to get the fruit-hammock dangling over a bowl, until I remembered this post from Ampersand Duck. The wonderful blogosphere to the rescue! So I inverted one of the kitchen stools, dusted its legs, & set up this contraption:

It dripped away all night and in the morning I boiled the 8 cups of liquid with 6 cups of sugar. Boiled it until "setting point" which I've always been hopeless at. So I kept boiling and boiling and testing and testing, by dripping liquid on a saucer to see how thick it was, until finally I lost interest, drifted away, and it boiled over rather dramatically. Ruby rescued it but set a tea towel on fire in the process (at that point I had to put the camera down so no photo).

Finally, after about 2 hours of cooking, it began to set, hooray hooray, it seemed like magic (how did white grapes produce red jelly?) & I felt like a domestic goddess. I'd even sterilised some jars... and guess what, it tastes as good as it looks, so Nigella move over.


Kirsty said...

And you can't let all those lovely grapevine leaves go to waste either. Pick them and make dolmades! We'll all be even more jealous then.

Dorian said...

Very impressive, save us some!

lucy tartan said...

What Dorian said. Impressed.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Have you read Little Women (Part 2, sometimes publsihed separately as Good Wives)? The chapter about Meg and the redcurrant jelly will speak to you.

Pavlov's Cat said...



That's so pants said...

Nice. But what part is the piano playing in all this? What I'm saying is this - is it making a meaningful contribution to the jam?

Meredith said...

Kirsty, yes, I'm getting Richard on to the dolmades, hehehe. My own culinary enthusiasm has gone into hibernation again.

Dorian & Laura I will bring you some for a housewarming present.

PC thank you, I have read it, but that was 30 years ago. Will revisit!

Pants, groan, but good one.