Monday, October 11, 2010

Grape Jam

We got a nice load of Chantrelle mushrooms last week, and have been enjoying them all week - in omlettes, stir-fry, and some AWESOME spinach-mushroom enchilladas!

The best way to eat them is slice them thick, let them air-dry a day or two, and quick-fry them in butter. The have tons of Vitamin D... the only food with more 'D' is Cod Liver Oil.

We also tried making Grape jam for a first time this week.

As mentioned before, this was a poor year for grapes. The wet, cooler summer is mostly to blame...

Here is a comparison of the berries - the clump on the right is 'typical' of those gathered this year. Note also the hornet damage.

We got a good load in our last picking - only about 3/4 of a bucket, but enough for jam, and another 2 batches of juice.

We made jam several different ways - first, by crushing all the berries directly to juice them. No cooking, no skinning - just mashed in the strainer.

The 2nd way was to take off the skins, cook the pulp, and then strain out the seeds - just like making pie filling. This way takes longer, but gives alot more volume. Not as fresh-tasting, though.

Here is the juice of the first, fresh mashing.

Very dark and very deliciouso.

We also used two different sweeteners - honey, and regular sugar.

The recipes for both were easy - just stir in the sweets into the juice, then add a package of pectin.

We did about 6 cups of each of the 4 types. All of them were fantastic!

The honey jam was very strong taste of honey, ending in a very sweet, grape flavor.

The sugar-based jam was all about the grapes and grape taste.

Our favorite batch was using sugar, with the cooked pulp. After straining out the seeds, we blended up the grape skins, and added them back in.

The skin really helps preserve the 'fresh - off the vine' taste.

It is crazy with all the fruit and canning how thick the fruit-flys have been this year.

To fix this, we poured some Apple Cider Vinegar into a plate, and added a drop of dish soap. In seconds, the cloud decended and very soon our 'pests' were taken care of.

The beautiful fall weather, long, slanted sunlight, and fresh grapes, jam, and grape pie really brought the best of the harvest together.