Saturday, September 20, 2014
Wild Grape and Crab Apple Jelly!
This is the best time of year for picking wild grapes. Grapes are a difficult plant to pin down as to the exact cultivar. The closest I have come to determining the type of what I pick is that it is a fox grape, a wild Muscadine. It is small and not tasty raw. It has a pungent grape flavor and is somewhat tart. I have it on good authority that the flavor sweetens considerably after a frost. However, it makes fantastic jelly in its current state. I tried it for the first time last year and, much like elderberries, was very hesitant based on the raw flavor. It has turned out to be one of our favorite jellies. The added sugar really brings out a sharp grape flavor. I mostly add the crab apples as a form of natural pectin, but it adds a nice subtle flavor as well. My jellies always set when I use crab apples and it is hit or miss when I use store bought pectin.
This recipe is versatile based on the amounts that you pick. I aim for two gallon baggies of each grapes and crab apples.
Wild Grape and Crab Apple Jelly
Pick as much fruit as you like, just make sure that at least half of the fruit is crab apples (provides pectin). Remove the stem and flower at the other end from the crab apples. Remove any blemishes and cut in half and put in pot. Add de-stemmed grapes. Fill with water until just barely covering fruit.
Boil until mushy and mash a bit. Strain in a jelly bag or fine mesh strainer (this is what I used, strained three times). Add liquid to clean pot. For every cup of liquid, add a cup of sugar. For every six cups add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Boil until it sheets/gels. Ladle into prepared jars. Water bath 15 minutes.