Grape jam


Kentucky seems to have received a (temporary?) reprieve from this summer’s blistering heat so everyone here is running around in the warm-but-not-sweltering sunshine trying to check outdoor activities off summer bucket lists before school resumes next week. My family is no exception. We made an outing to our local u-pick farm with my aunt last Friday. The weather was perfect. I’d envisioned picking strawberries, then blueberries, then…well, we finally got the right weather during grape season.

Most of the grapes were up too high for Worth so he was our official taste-tester and loader of the boxes. Dorothy picked until I was stung by a bee, then she mostly chose to point out good clusters and let my aunt risk her fingers for them. We picked a lot of grapes, and I admit that the quantity seemed much greater back in my kitchen than it had in the vineyard. Rob made fun of me and suggested that I’d never use them all…

…but I proved him wrong! After a grape-scented Saturday in the kitchen I ended up with eight quarts of jam (one batch is pictured here, cooling on one of my crochet-edged dishcloths), which we’ll probably have eaten by next Tuesday at the rate we go through jam, one grape pie, one gluten-free grape crisp to share with Nana, three big bags of washed and cookie-sheet frozen grapes for fall smoothies, and one rather modest container of leftover grapes just for snacking. I have no idea what type of grapes they are; they are delicious like concord grapes but are thin-skinned and seedless like their more bland and tart supermarket cousins. I used the old-fashioned recipe for jam, which basically just involves combining 2 parts grapes with 3 parts sugar and cooking the crap out of it (that’s a technical term) until it reaches the slightly mysterious gelling stage, at which point you pour it into clean jars. I usually make jam this way, without pectin, although it takes longer and uses more sugar. It just tastes jammier to me and feels more like channeling my foremothers, which seems like a legitimate goal of making jam in the age of Costco. Dorothy and Worth set up a lemonade stand out in front of our house under the guidance of their father while I made jam and raked in more than $20.00 in profits over the course of the gorgeous late-morning, which they spent on plush foxes at the zoo next day. So glad we’ve finally been able to crawl out from under the air conditioning for a few days!


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