Monday, September 20, 2010

Preserves...

Remember the Tea Party I talked about in the last post?  Well, my friend's dad has the most magnificent gardens just outside of town, and he grows everything.  Everything!  Including these amazing grapes.  They are Concord grapes, I think, and oh boy, were they sweet and good!  From my two gi-normous banana boxes of grapes, I shared with Only Daughter, Daughter-in-Love, and my dad who intends to make a Mogan-David style wine with his allotment.  I hope it turns out just as he has envisioned it.  Anyway, with my grapes, I chose to make some grape jelly using crab apple juice that I had on the pantry shelf to mix in with it.  Crab apples are very high in pectin and therefore are excellent used in jelly-making.  My MIL taught me to mix half grape juice (or any other juice) and half crab apple juice for the best jelly consistency ever, and she was right about that.

(I didn't realize it until now, but you can see my reflection in these grapes)

My first try at the jam without the crab apple juice was a total bomb.  The jelly turned out like sticky taffy.  The flavor was there, but that batch went to the chickens.  The next two batches were good, but did not jell like I wanted so I poured them back into the pot and reboiled them and then got the perfect jell.  I was prepared for the worst, but was so happy to see it jell as I wanted.

The next canning venture I had with the Concords was sweet grape juice.  This is SO easy and is such a treat to drink.  All you do is put 1 cup of washed grapes into each quart jar. Then add about 1/3 to 1/2 cups of sugar to each quart (more depending on how sweet/sour your grapes are).  Pour boiling water over each quart, leaving 1/2" head space and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.  After a week or so of sitting on the pantry shelf, open a jar, strain out the grapes and sip.  It's deeeee-lish!


I gathered up quite a few more tomatoes from my garden -- some green, some orange, some red and decided to make something my dad fondly remembers from his childhood -- tomato preserves.  I have never eaten nor made tomato preserves before, but I thought it would be fun to make for my dad.  Besides, I am always game to try a new recipe.  I found Aunt Della's Tomato Preserves recipe online and it sounded similar to what Dad had described to me.  The reviews on it were good too so I figured it was worth a shot.  I left out the cinnamon, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.  Dad didn't recall any spice flavor in the tomato preserves he had eaten so I didn't add the dash of cinnamon that the recipe calls for.  It also calls for a very thinly sliced lemon, so I used my mandolin to do that job, and then I quartered each slice.  I didn't want the lemon slices to overpower the tomato.

On the far left side are the scrumptious tomato preserves.  If you like marmalade, you would love this!  It is a perfect balance of lemon and tomato all in a sticky, lovely, jammy mess.  I wonder though if the old recipes that our grandma's used had lemon slices in them?  I'm not sure if having a few lemons on hand at canning time was common or not.  What do you think?

I've been eating preserves on toast for two days.  Mmm mmm.  I was meaning to take a picture of my preserves on toast, but I ate it so fast I totally spaced-out taking a picture.  Sorry, you'll have to trust me on how good it is.

In the middle of the picture above, you'll see my deep purple jars of grape jam and to the right-front is another new-to-me recipe called Tomato Jam.  It, however, is not a marmalade, but instead it's more of a thick, spicy-sweet, ketchup-y tomato jam.  You can't believe how good this stuff is!  Really!   I can imagine eating it over a thick hamburger or on a moist piece of roast chicken or dumped over a good, soft cheese.  I made just a couple changes to the original recipe.  I used half the sugar and added in 1 tsp. dried onion flakes and 1/2 tsp. of celery seed and 1/2 tsp. of dried yellow mustard.  I found the recipe for Tomato Jam  at the Food in Jars blog which has become a fast favorite.  This girl cans just about everything.  I am now anticipating the Clementine or Little Cutie mandarin oranges coming into season so I can whack up a few jars of those as Miss Marisa does here

I hope that I might find just a few more pounds of homegrown tomatoes so I can cook up some more of that Tomato Jam, but the season up North is coming to a fast close.  There are still good apples hanging on the trees and my friend's dad has bushels and bushels and bushels (really, he does!) of apples and it's tradition for us to take a day in October and make apple sauce and apple butter together.  The canning cupboard is getting nice and full.

17 comments:

  1. Wow Jody -- you're amazing! What a great bunch of work you've been doing -- it all looks so delicious. As for the lemons -- I'm thinking it might not have been very common?

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  2. You've been a busy gal! I bet it tastes as beautiful as it all looks too!

    Joyce

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  3. Concord grapes grow well in my hometown. This time of year when they are harvested, the Welch's plant is going 24 hours; and the smell in town is delicious.

    I've made the same grape juice before when my girls were small. It made them feel like they were helping preserve for the winter.

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  4. Wow!! What a wonderful array of preserves. I bet your house smelled a little like heaven. :)

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  5. My stars -- you're a busy girl! All your creations sound amazing, and the grape juice recipe is so intriquing -- must go hunt down some grapes and make me some.
    Blessings,
    G

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  6. My Mom always made grape jam - I remember helping by shooting the insides of the grapes out the skins - then my mom would snip up the skins and boil insides and outsides together. Very tasty!

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  7. Oh my mouth is watering but I'm laughing too- we had grapes on our eleven year old vine for the first time this summer- Irish grapes! Not much bigger than a pin-head and bright unripe green. These are much more useful!

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  8. Your lucky gal. I would love to have some grapes. Daugher and I are up to our eyebrows in apples! My house smells like a fancy candle only much much better.

    ~M~

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  9. Mmmmmm! Toast for breakfast . . . no canning cupboard . . . lemon curd? Done. YOU are amazing. I want to see Dad's wine when it is in the bottles.

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  10. It's all so beautiful to look at it--that your preserves might taste delicious, too, oh, it's too much, too much!

    xofrances

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  11. We cracked open a quart of grape juice this morning that I had chilling in the frig overnight. It was very good, but I think a little more age on it will be even better -- like good wine.

    Thanks for all your kind comments. I wish I could give everybody a virtual taste of the preserves.

    Jody

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  12. Thank you for the encouraging failure! I do really feel better now- the prayers are working!

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  13. Jody, you have been a busy homemaker! And what wonderful things you are making! Yummmm!!!!

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  14. Mom the link for canning clementines is neat! I LOVE LOVE those little Cuties. I'll have to try that this winter- looks easy. Not as many steps as Grape Jelly!! Yikes

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  15. You have been a very busy girl. I love the grape juice idea!! I keep saying I am going to get making something but sofar I am lame and have done nothing xoxo Clarice

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  16. The tomato jam really sounds good. I printed the recipe although it will have to wait till next year. Have you tasted it yet?

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  17. Glorious! Now about the lemon ingredient in the tomato preserves...I have read that the white part of the lemon rind is bitter and should be left out. Once I put slices of lemon in a black bean soup and it ruined it. BUT the preserves have sugar, so I guess that's why a little lemon rind doesn't hurt. You said it turned out scrumptious. Thanks for the recipe!

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