Concord Grape Jam

Gorgeous Homegrown Concord Grapes
In the spirit of not letting anything go to waste, my father in law gave me nearly 20 lbs of concord grapes to do something with :) The back story on the grapes is that they come from vines planted by my husbands great grandfather.

Ok.  Fast forward.  I have a huge bag of concord grapes on my kitchen floor.  Good Grief! I just got done with the tomatoes.

So, I grab this years new treasure in my cook book library, Canning for a New Generation, Bold Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff. Her Spiced Concord Grape Jam was going to get tested.  One of the reasons I've enjoyed this particular canning book is that the author uses less sugar and natural pectin than the traditional recipes. She also combines flavors that I wouldn't have thought of, with delicious results.

Admittedly the first batch, was a *wee* bit challenging as I'd never worked with grapes before.  I had hoped to use my food strainer and that was a bust.  I figured out I needed to create an assembly line.

Concord Grape Jam Assembly Line
First, you have to separate the grape hulls (or skin) from the pulp that holds the seed. I did this by hand.  Yes. All 20 lbs worth. The big red pot above was for the pulp and the clear bowl held the hulls.  I did my work in 4-ish lb batches (hey, I don't have a kitchen scale yet ;).
note The little stems are a total pain in the ass.  I kept warm water in the sink close by so I could quickly rise my hands often as I went about de-hulling the grapes.

Second, the pulp needs to come to a boil on the stove. It soften them up for the next step.  Where I deviated from the recipe is that I blended up my hulls instead of adding them whole later as the recipe called for.  I used my ancient blender for this step.  The blended hulls went into the central cooking pot.

Boiling Grape Pulp
Third, after coming to a boil and cooking for about 10 mins, the pulp needed to be strained to keep the seeds out.

Separating the grape pulp from the seeds.
I used a simple sieve and just like you sift powdered sugar, I used a tablespoon and pushed through the pulp, separating it from the seeds.  The remaining pulp I added to the main cooking pot.

Forth, I added the ingredients to the blended hulls and de-seeded pulp.  Onto the stove top it goes, until it boils and then turned down to simmer for about 15-20 mins, until it was ready to be put into warm, waiting canning jars.

I found my enameled cast iron pot to be a great cooking pot for jam making. You won't find this frugal gal sporting Le Creuset...nope.  Thank you, but good old Lodge cookware is working great for me.

Then, I followed directions for water bathing the jam and presto....22 half pints later, I was done.

Spiced Concord Grape Jam
Even the household manager approved.

'Silver Cat' as he is commonly called around here.
It was a long day in the kitchen.  Simplifying my make-shift assembly line helped. A lot. A good playlist on the Ipod helped a lot too :)

Drumroll please...the taste...pretty darn good. You can taste the sassy grapes against the contrast of the tangy lemon, with just a hint of spices.  It is not a sweet jam, but it is not tart either.

Requests from family are already lining up for my jam at Christmas. Awesome. Exactly what I was hoping for!

Cheers, Jenni


  1. This jam looks just wonderful, Jenni. My Mom always used concord grapes for hers as well. I seem to only get canning done every few years and this year isn't going to be one of them!

    Enjoy....and homemade goodies at Christmas are just the best!


  2. Good for you! The jam looks delicious and you will surely be the family's jam maker from now on.
    Regarding your previous post - the solution to keeping warm is wool. Nothing keeps the chill out like wool. Don't even thing about layering with cotton or fleece sweaters - a pair of big wool socks worn as slippers and a big old wool sweater and you'll be toasty.

  3. Your are my hero. I would have made wine with them, but jam's good too.

  4. Jenni, sounds and looks wonderful! and you will relish every bite in the coming year/s.

    I'm headed out now to pick the final tomatoes, what may be the last of the eggplant, so I guess today will be processing time. Have a great weekend and hopefully you will have some sunshine.

  5. Grape jam - that's a new one on me!

  6. Great job! It sounds like an interesting combination. I bet it turned out great. I will have to look into the book you mentioned. I have a bunch of grapes in the freezer. Though I'm sure most of them will go to wine.


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