Fall/ Preserving Know-how

The Grape Harvest

Nothing says approaching autumn more than grapes. We are so fortunate to live in an area where there are lots of wild grapes as well as other domesticated varieties like Concord and Coronation. Wild grapes can be found along riverbanks, beside ponds and growing up trees with their long tendrils. They are edible but eaten off the vine back a mean bitter punch, so they are best used for juicing rather than eating. Whether using foraged wild grapes or domesticated grapes, both are wonderful to preserve as juice or jelly.

Extracting juice: Steam juicers make quick work of extracting juice from fruits including grapes. But if you don’t have one, no problem. For a typical jelly batch, 3.5 lbs of grapes, washed and removed from stems will yield 10 cups of grapes. In a large pot, crush grapes with 1 cup of water and cook gently for 10 minutes. Pour the mash into a dampened jelly bag or cheesecloth lined sieve and allow the juice to naturally drip out (no squeezing!). In about 2 hours, you will have about 4 cups of juice. No interest in extracting your own juice? You can also buy it locally. Check with http://fiddleheadnursery.ca

Grapes are one of the few fruits (technically a berry) that has a natural abundance of tartaric acid. The acid binds with naturally occurring potassium forming crystals that sink to the bottom of the container. You might have seen this phenomenon in a glass of red wine. To ensure the juice you process is clear, it’s recommended that you extract the juice and let it sit refrigerated for at least 2 days. Pour the juice through a dampened jelly bag avoiding the last bits of the juice. Juice can be processed for long-term storage or frozen.

Grape jelly is the quintessential match for peanut butter in the iconic PB&J. The jelly is great with cheese or melted and used as a glaze on seared duck breast. It is also useful in baking like adding a dollop into a muffin mix before baking, topping a thumbprint cookie, or spreading over a genoise cake and rolled into a “Jelly Roll”.

The grape harvest is upon us. Gather up the family and forage along the riversides, collect grapes from friends or purchase them locally. Grapes are a gift of nature with endless possible uses.

Martha Rogers




Grape Jelly

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  • 4 cups of grape juice
  • 1 package pectin crystals
  • 5 cups sugar



Mix the pectin into the juice and bring to a hard boil. Add the sugar all at once. Bring back to boil and boil hard 1 minute. Ladle into hot 250ml Mason jars. For long-term storage, process the jars in a water-bath or steam canner for 10 minutes. Allow to rest 5 minutes before removing from the canner. For short-term storage, simply allow the jars to cool, label and store in the fridge for up to 3 months. This makes about 7 jars.

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