Adventures in Jelly making

You know grape jelly? That essential ingredient of childhood sandwiches and also the flavor of childhood medicine?  It has a very distinctive flavor that until recently I referred to as “fake grape” or “purple flavored”.  Despite purple being my favorite color, I hated that too strong taste.  And the actual grapes I had encountered in real life never tasted like that.  That’s probably true for a lot of people I think.  So imagine my surprise when I got grapes in my CSA basket.

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Aside from the fact that grapes aren’t commonly grown in Oklahoma, these were fragrant.  They filled up the kitchen with their scent once I got them home.  And you know what they smelled like?  Grape jelly!  Seriously!  I had true concord grapes sitting in my kitchen.

The first batch I took to a friend’s house to eat as a snack.  And they tasted all right, but they had these annoying little seeds in them.  Now I understand why they are typically made into jelly.

These were my first attempt at jelly making.  I normally prefer jams because you don’t have to worry about pectin and such generally.  I followed the recipe for Concord Grape Jelly with Green Apples from Canning for a New Generation.  The photos here are from my second, much smaller attempt.  The first attempt, I might have overcooked the jelly.  I won’t be sure until I open the jars.  This second batch I did not can; it went straight into the fridge when it was done.

Definitely put on your aprons for this one, and I wore gloves while cleaning and squeezing the grapes.

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One of the neat things about this recipe is that it uses green apples to boost the pectin content for the jelly.  I love this, because it feels more natural to me than buying a packet of instant pectin.  However, I have so little experience with jellies, that I’m not sure how it’s supposed to behave.  Jams seem a lot more straightforward by comparison.

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We tried this on toast the following weekend.  I might have also overcooked this one? The texture is strange compared to store-bought jellies.  It’s very spreadable and soft, and Andrew and I prefer it to the clumpy nature you usually see.

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Left: store bought cherry “spread” Right: homemade grape jelly

If anyone has experience making jellies, I’d love to know. I tried googling, but it seemed that for most people overcooked jelly went to hard candy mode and I didn’t see a lot of photos of the finished product being used.

Returning to Blogging

It’s been almost a year since I last posted to this blog.  In my last reboot, I gave the site a makeover, and thought I was going to move in a more food blog direction.  But, even though most of my projects are kitchen projects, very few of them were my own idea.  It was mostly me trying somebody else’s recipe.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but generally, I want to contribute something new when I post stuff to the internet.  This makes me a lurker on a lot of the communities I frequent (including Facebook).

So that is  part of the reason I haven’t been posting.  I’ve been thinking carefully about whether or not to come back, and what kind of things I want to post if I do come back.  I’m not sure I have an answer.  I like posting to my blog. I feel like it offers a more long-form venue than Facebook or Twitter.  But I want to feel like I’m writing something interesting to other people, and not just echoing other people.  I’m not an activist, and I’m the first to admit that I’m not the most creative person.  So what then does someone like me write about?

I’m not quite sure yet. I spend a lot of my time on the internet, reading blogs, collecting projects and recipes.  I check out library books.  I work long hours during the week, and my weekend projects tend to be food related.  Lately, I’ve been focusing on exercising, eating well, and meditation.  I’m getting to a place where I feel really on top of my life right now.  So I want to add blogging again.  And NaBloPoMo (like NaNoWriMo, but for blogs) seems like good timing.  I hope you’ll find my new posts interesting enough to keep following.

If you have any ideas for content you’d like to see, please leave a comment or use the contact form on the side.