Grape Jelly with Fox Grapes

September 16th, 2010 / Comments 3

I was driving home from the library when a bear ran across the road in front of my car. It’s the third bear I’ve seen that wasn’t behind bars in the zoo. The other two were performing bears, dressed in vests and hats on the street in Istanbul. This naked, energetic, black bear brought to mind, Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey’s book for children that combines the joy of finding and gathering wild food with the possibility of meeting an animal or two in the process. Although it was too late to look for blueberries, the sight of the bear reminded me that September is wild grape time in Vermont.

grapes 01 Grape Jelly with Fox Grapes

It’s easy to spot wild grape vines that have climbed trees, utility poles and wires to reach the sunlight and their yellowing leaves are the signal that it’s harvest time. When cooked with sugar, the grapes that Charles and I harvest each fall become an intense grape jelly. I made eighteen jars of jelly with this year’s harvest. We will spread it on toast, use it to flavor yogurt, give it to friends and enjoy the rest slathered on sponge cake in divine jelly rolls. With just grapes and sugar and a bit of water the jelly is easy to make. Here’s how I did it:

Grape Jelly

I removed leaves, moldy grapes and large pieces of vine from the grapes but didn’t separate the grapes from the smaller pieces of vine and stems. After rinsing the grapes in cold water I put them into my largest pot. I added a cup of water and stirred the grapes frequently as I heated them over medium heat. After about fifteen minutes, they had softened and released their juice. I used a food mill to separate the juice from the stems, seeds and peels.

I cooked the jelly in four-cup batches – four cups of juice combined with six cups of sugar. I used a ladle to skim the foam that formed as the juice and sugar boiled. When the jelly reached 220º, I poured it into half-pint mason jars and followed the directions that came with the jars for heat processing.

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• 3 Responses to “Grape Jelly with Fox Grapes”

  • daisy says:

    I make fox grape jelly every year here in southern Canada. I have recently started adding about 8 small green wild apples to about 3 lbs of grapes. What a lovely addition and NO worries about your jelly setting.

  • Theresa says:

    The proportion of juice to sugar sounds right to me. Fox grapes have quite a pucker to them. In fact, they have so much acid that if you eat them right off the bunch they will leave your lips tingling and numb.

    But they do make excellent jam and juice.

  • Drick says:

    6 cups of sugar to 4 cups of juice … sweet…. take a jar with you for the bear

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