Fall is the season of canning and preserving the hard work of summer just before settling in for a long winter. Wild grapes were a bonus this year. A nice change from the usual vegetables and fruits to “put up”.
These tiny tart grapes were climbing and evergreen and huge cottonwood trees just south of the farm. I’m pretty sure we weren’t the first to pick because there weren’t too many within easy reach. But, with a little climbing and getting stuck on a few branches we had picked a small bucket and home we went.
Then was the task of cleaning them. Ugh, what a purple mess! They were still pretty well stuck on the vine and there were a few spiders that made their way home as well. Spiders stop all production and empty the kitchen until someone (my husband) has taken care of the problem. After dying my fingers purple and a few evacuations a new method was used.
I prefer to not eat all the little critters that come with a wild harvest. (Dad calls it extra protein…I’m not that hungry) I soak them in vinegar and cold water for about an hour. Magical vinegar, I just love the stuff! With a few swishes of the water the dried berries and critters float to the top and can be easily removed.
Into the pot they went stems and all. No more purple fingers. A little water to keep them from scorching and some heat to release the juice. Smashing the grapes every so often (makes them wine, hahaha. Ok, cheesy I know). After about an hour or so it’s juice time. Straining and squishing through a food mill, we were ready for jelly (or wine 🙂 .
I use a pretty basic recipe for my jelly. No need to over complicate it. Just a little pectin, sugar and butter. Yes, butter. A granny secret is to add a bit of butter to the jelly to prevent the frothy foam the usually forms on top. Then there’s no skimming to do!
This recipe can be adapted for any fruit juice.