Friday, August 24, 2007

We Be Jamming

Friday night was Grape Night at the house. After a long week of work, we came home and cut grapes off the arbors in the backyard. Our intent is to eventually make grape jelly, and tonight was the first step.

Doing my best to dodge the floodwater mosquitoes, we picked around 10 pounds of grapes, leaving a few of the greener ones for the woodchuck. (We haven't been able to figure out if he is dexterous enough to eat grapes off the vine or not.)

After washing and stemming, it was time to mash. We transferred all 10 pounds to a giant plastic bucket and tried to take a potato masher to them.

Too slow. So Meg thought she'd stomp around in them instead.

I thought this was a great idea, so I gave it a try while Meg rested.

We then realized that we could alternate stomping and each fit a foot in the bucket.

They say the hands are one of the best tools in the kitchen. I have to say that the feet are a close second.

So all of this stomping around worked great, until Meg realized that the plastic bag around her foot broke. We weren't too worried, as we were just going to boil the mash when we were done. That and any foot dirt would get strained out. Then my bag broke as well.

After a thorough foot cleansing, we boiled the mash.

It looks incredibly vile, but I can tell you that it smelled delicious.

It was at this point that we rigged up our own version of a jelly bag by bungeeing muslin around the bucket and pouring the mixture through. I read about the muslin technique online, and Meg thought up the bungee idea. We make a good team.

On Sunday, we successfully preserved with no casualties1.

Yes, that's 24 jars of jelly. It's really good jelly, too. Not as sweet as Smuckers, yet grapier. I think it's lighter in color because either we picked the grapes a bit on the underripe side, or because we added the white concords.

We have mostly determined their recipients, but there are a couple to spare. If you think you need a jar of homemade grape jelly, leave us a convincing argument in the comments -- best one wins. Maybe we'll let Angus pick. Maybe we'll send Angus to the runner-up.

1The last time we tried this, I dropped and shattered an entire jar of would-be blueberry jam on the floor... and all over Meg's backpack.


Kathy in KS said...

Homemade jelly. Wow, I haven't had homemade stuff like that since we lived in FL, and my dear MIL made something that tasted like orange marmalade, but turns out she made it from kumquats. I didn't even know I liked kumquats. Anyway, here's my arguement for giving me the jelly...when I was up in your neck of the woods a few weeks ago, I apparantly brought all your 90+ degree weather back here to KS with me. You're welcome. Plus, I know who the Naperville Nazi's are.

Laura said...

I have a cat in my house just like Angus, I think I deserve the jelly just for that :) Although being a Canadian girl I only have welch's on in the frige, I would love to try something new :)

Franklin said...

I think I should get some jelly because I am disconsolate bachelor living alone in the big city, and also because I will give you fiber.

LaurieM said...

I think I deserve a jar because I've got jelly karma stored up. I used to make homemade strawberry and peach jam and I often gave it away to friends and family. Now that I work full time, I don't have the time to make preserves.

Katie said...

Ummm...let's see. You could give me a jar as a housewarming present, just as soon as I find my new home (still looking - kill me now!).

I don't really have anything to bribe you with, other than maybe distracting Angus the next time I come out to your place so you can get some stuff done bite-free! Or maybe sticking around and keeping you company the next time we work a show at the school together. :)

Congrats on the jelly, by the way! My mom used to make crabapple jelly from the tree in our front yard. YUMMY! I miss having homemade jelly. *sniffle*


Madam said...

If one of these jars could be delivered with Thorny, let me tell you... I deserve a jar because I am a good influence when Thorny needs a good influence and a bad influence when she needs a bad 'un :)

Really, how can you go wrong with an argument like that?

Kathy in KS said...

I just thought of one more reason! Today's my birthday. My middle son asked how old I was. I asked him back how old he thought I was. He said 20. I told him he's my favorite. (FYI, I'm not 20, but old enough to think that if I still look 20, that's pretty darn great)

Kim said...

Well, I will shamelessly assert that I should receive a jar because I am a knitting, spinning, contra dancer in suburban Philadelphia with a fractured foot so I can't dance this Thursday :)

David said...

I think I am uniquely entitled to a jar of jelly because I finished a sock for you guys last year at Rhinebeck. And also because there is nothing more pathetic than a guy in a kilt with absolutely no jelly.

Sherrill in PDX said...

Your blog swept me back to the summer of 1976. I was living in a great old house with a bay window, the grapes grew on the fence beside the garage with a front and a back door, so you could enter/exit from both street and the alley. At any rate, I picked, I crushed, I filtered, I filtered again. Then I sat about the boiling in the largest pot I owned, one that was, as it turned out, not large enough. I had grape jelly frothing up over the sides, over the stove, down the sides and onto the floor. I mopped and I mopped and I mopped, far into the night. At some point in the evening it dawned on me that I never really liked grape jelly much. I mopped for days and still stuck to the floor. When I moved from that house a few years later I had to mop up the aged grape jelly from beneath the stove.
Give the jelly to those who truly appreciate the work and who genuinely like grape jelly.
Thanks for the memory.

Stephenson! said...

We could definitely use a jar because we love you guys! Hehe. I haven't had homemade jelly-type stuff in such a long time... I probably would have been 7 or 8, and it was fig preserves made by a sibling of one of my grandparents.

I'm sure there are other much more jelly-needy people you can give your leftover jars to... Tell you what... How about just save us a bite each and a piece of bread to toast for it. :D

Eldronius said...

I am just getting to read this! I always just link over from Franklin's, and he was remodeling! I will be sure to bookmark your place, so I will never lose it.

I would love grape jelly. I nearly screamed when I saw the two alternating feet, adorable. I have always wanted to make a huge batch of jelly, but I have only managed a few jars of Jalepeno jelly a few years ago. I would gladly make some more to trade! Oh, oh, grandmother used to make jelly from the beans of the thousand Mesquite trees that grow around here. I have always wanted a reason to try that. It tasted so clean and sweet. Do those kind of bribes work? It is nothing like fiber from Franklin.

And in High School I carried around a rubber chicken in my pocket every day. His name was Komahuhawknamikakanop (okay, I am not sure how to spell it, but that was it phonetically.) Anyway, I will assume his favorite jelly was grape. :)

Stephenson! said...

On second thought, I totally don't deserve the jelly, because I only just now got the pun that is the title of this post.

But then I do deserve jelly for admitting it. :P

Lanea said...

How cool is that? I've never made jelly--only jam. Now I want to plant grapes. . .

David said...

Hey guys,

I just wanted to let you know that when I got home from Rhinebeck, the jelly was sitting on my front porch.

I brought it in to work today and we all ate it on matzoh. My co-worker declared it the most delicious jelly he's ever had and said "it's like eating sunshine". :-)

Great job, and THANK YOU!!!