Last week, I promised to share my recipe for epic Concord grape freezer jam, and I always keep my word! However, before we delve into the recipe, let me provide some context. I have been busy reviewing beard oil since I was asked by my partner to start using it.
A couple of weeks ago, I paid a visit to the new Friendly City Food Co-Op right here in downtown H’burg. (By the way, they’re open to the public, and you should definitely check them out!) I was running low on grapes, the seedless variety I typically enjoy as a quick snack on my way to work. While at the checkout counter, the cashier asked if I had ever tried Concord grapes.
With an excited demeanor, he darted behind the counter, plucked a bunch of Concord grapes from the display, and handed them to me. “These have seeds, and some people don’t like the skins, but I eat the whole thing. They’re amazing!” he exclaimed. I pondered how I would gracefully eat a grape with seeds and tough skin while standing in line at the grocery store. But why not? I decided to give it a try.
To my surprise, it tasted just like grape jelly!
All these years, I had assumed that grape jelly was some kind of synthetic creation because it never truly tasted like grapes to me. I thought it must be a concocted flavor, just labeled as “grape” for some inexplicable reason. It never occurred to me that I had been eating the “wrong” kind of grapes, and that grape jelly was made from Concord grapes rather than the red and green seedless varieties I was accustomed to. It turns out I had been a little slow to catch on. My culinary knowledge had been fairly limited!
After extensive research, I realized that no one seemed to have documented their experience making Concord grape freezer jam. I encountered a mishmash of incomplete methods, plenty of vague instructions, and numerous traditional jam-making approaches (complete with boiling jars and all that jazz) but no clear guidance on freezer jam techniques.
Fear not, my friends, for I successfully created freezer jam from Concord grapes, and I’m here to provide you with a step-by-step guide. The results were nothing short of divine—dare I say, truly epic.
While Concord grape jam requires a bit of cooking, rest assured it’s not overly complicated (though you can certainly consider it hardcore if you want to earn some culinary bragging rights; the grape peeling process can be quite intense).
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Concord grapes
- A food processor (or an immersion blender)
- A fine sieve/strainer
- A potato masher
- A medium-sized saucepan
- A medium-sized bowl
- A small bowl
- Three 8-oz jam jars with lids
- 2/3 cup of sugar or an equivalent sweetener by sweetness, not volume (divided into 1/3 and 1/3)
- 2 tablespoons of no-cook instant pectin
Now, let’s get started:
- Procure some Concord grapes. For a small batch of jam (enough to fill three 8-oz jars), you’ll need just under 2 cups of prepared grapes, which equated to about 1 2/3 cups in my case. To gather that amount, I purchased three containers of grapes, roughly measuring 8 inches long by 4 inches wide.
- Peel the grapes. To do this, remove a grape from the stem and gently squeeze the end between your thumb and forefinger. The grape’s innards will slide out effortlessly. Place the innards (the grape pulp) into a saucepan and the peels into your food processor. It took me a little over an hour to peel all those grapes, so enlisting some help, perhaps from the younger generation, might be a wise strategy.
- Now that all your grape pulp is in the saucepan, add a small amount of water, no more than 1/3 cup, and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Why? This is the easiest way to separate the seeds from the pulp.
- While the grape peels are accumulating in your food processor, add 1/3 cup of sugar and process until smooth. Be cautious at this stage—this is where things can get messy. The peels themselves aren’t very messy, but once you blend them, the purple color can stain everything in its path. (I speak from experience here.)
- Turn off the heat beneath the grape pulp (okay, fine, grape pulp…). Grab a fine sieve or strainer and position it over a bowl. Pour the grape pulp into the sieve and use a potato masher to press the pulp through while removing the seeds. Your goal here is to eliminate all the seeds while allowing as much pulp to pass through as possible.
- In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of instant pectin.
- Pour the pureed grape peel mixture into the saucepan with the grape pulp. Add the sugar and pectin mixture. Stir for 3 minutes.
- Ladle the grape mixture into jam jars. Leave about 1/2 inch of space at the top of each jar to allow for expansion during freezing. You certainly don’t want grape jam bursting all over your freezer.
- Allow the jars to sit on the counter for 30 minutes.
- Refrigerate the jars that you plan to consume within 3 weeks, and freeze the rest. You’re done!
Over time, the jam will naturally thicken, although it’s perfectly spreadable right away.
What sets Concord grape jam apart from other freezer jams is the peeling and de-seeding process, which can be a bit labor-intensive. However, what I appreciate most (aside from the pure, unadulterated deliciousness of the jam) is the knowledge that I know precisely what’s in my jam. There are no chemicals, no genetically modified sweeteners, no fillers. My jam consists of organic Concord grapes, pectin, and vegan cane sugar. That’s it. My homemade jam is more cost-effective than store-bought organic versions and tastes significantly better!
As a result of making this delightful jam, I’ve been enjoying an abundance of PB&J sandwiches. The picture you see was taken a few days after making the jam, and it has continued to thicken since then.
So there you have it—epic Concord grape freezer jam in 10 simple steps!