life @ FINCA GRAN CERROS

Attempting Grape Jam

It’s that happy time of year again when the  vines here at Finca Gran Cerros are bursting with grapes.

The largest vine is just outside our kitchen door so for the past few weeks Shaun and I have been banging our heads on rock-hard green grapes (or rather, I have, Shaun would have to grow another couple of  inches first!).

Those pesky grapes are finally ripe!

But this week, they were ripe enough to eat – and although we’ve been feeding them to guests as quickly as humanly possible, we knew we were going to have a fair few bunches left over…  There’s only so many grapes you can try to force-feed to people as they’re quietly lounging by the pool.

Now, not wanting to run before we can walk, we decided we’re not quite up to the challenge of wine-making just yet, so after a bit of Googling we decided to give grape jam/jelly (is there a difference?) a go.

How hard could it be, we wondered…?

Amazingly, it was either surprisingly easy, or beginner’s luck kicked in and we did actually end up with some jars of grape jam that vaguely resembled the ‘grape jelly’ that I remember eating a few years ago when visiting family in the USA.

It actually worked!

The process needed a fair amount of both patience and sugar – and if you’re tempted to try it yourself, don’t be put off by the fact that ours smelled of rhubarb and socks throughout the entire cooking process…

I didn’t mind at all, but one of us hates rhubarb, so it’s just as well that the smell belied the taste!

It didn’t TASTE like rhubarb and socks!

So if you don’t already have your own tried and tested grape jam/jelly recipe and fancy giving one a whirl, I can highly recommend this recipe, with the aforementioned proviso that the success of this first batch could be entirely due to beginner’s luck…

And unless we pluck up the courage to make another batch, we may never know).

Let us know how you get on.

Oh, and if you’re quick and a guest at Finca Gran Cerros before it runs out, you’re more than welcome to have some grape jam with your breakfast!

HOMEMADE GRAPE JAM

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2.5kg grapes (with seeds)
  • 1.125kg granulated sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Some sterilised jam jars

METHOD

This recipe used our own grapes, which are with seeds – which handily turns out to be a good thing, apparently.  If we’d used seedless ones, we would have needed to add pectin and, from what I’ve read (and jam experts will tell me if I’m wrong!), adding pectin to set the jam can make it a more solid than traditional runny grape jam and more the ‘slicing’ consistency of quince jam!

Anyway, here goes: Remove the grapes from the stalks, wash them and pop them in a large saucepan (no need to dry them).

Heat gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they burst and release their juice.

Squish them with a potato masher until all the grapes have burst, then simmer gently for another 10 minutes.

Strain the grape mixture through a sieve and muslin (if you have some) or clean tea towel and keep the liquid (not the pulpy bits).

Return the liquid to the pan, add the sugar and lemon juice and put it back on a medium heat.

Stir it until it’s reached 105C and then simmer it gently for another 30-50 mins (until the liquid is the consistency of single cream and coats the back of a spoon) or until you lose the will to continue…

Test whether it’s reached ‘setting point’ by placing a teaspoon of the grapey liquid onto a freezer chilled saucer.

If, after 2 minutes, the surface wrinkles when you prod it with a (clean!) finger, it’s ready!  If not, boil it some more and try again (or throw it away, chalk it up to experience and head to Mercadona if you’ve lost the will to continue).

Once it’s ready, let it cool for 10 mins before poring into sterilised (or dishwasher cleaned on the hottest wash) jars.

The grape jam should have the runny consistency of warm honey and should  keep in a dark cool place, unopened, for up to 3 months – and for up to 3 weeks in the fridge once opened (although once it open, you’ll want to eat it all up straight away!).

Enjoy!

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