My preserving and canning adventure actually started while snooping around at flickr.com. I post my photos there and I stumbled upon a recipe with photos for grape jam. It surprised me that the recipe did not require sugar. Most jam and preserve recipes require a lot of sugar. By a lot, I mean several cups!
In addition, I learned that nearly all jam/preserve recipes also require pectin. Pectin can actually complicate the process due to temperature requirements. Further research determined that adding pectin isn't really necessary as most fruits contain their own natural pectin. Strawberries would be an exception having very little. However, it is possible to increase pectin naturally by adding citrus juice, i.e., fresh squeezed lemon juice as opposed to a pectin/dextrose canning product.
If I was going to try this, I wanted to keep things as simple and natural as possible. After all, I was learning something new that my mother had never done and therefore never taught me. And I was reading a lot about things I had never heard of like a "hot water bath" for processing the finished product! What is that?
Back to how this all started.....
After reading many recipes and conducting research online, I decided to give making my own grape jam a whirl. I am trying to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet so I decided to go with the original recipe I had found that used honey as a substitute. Besides, the recipe was so descriptive and it sounded so yummy, I had to give it a try! I wish I had bookmarked it so I could post it here to give credit :(
So, the inspiration that led me to create my first ever batch of grape jam was in place. For that matter, my first batch of anything ever canned!
The first challenge was finding the grapes. I wanted concord grapes. We vacation in Leelanau County Michigan which is also Michigan wine country. With all those grapes you'd think someone would at least grow a few concords. Not a single concord was to be found anywhere on the Leelanau Peninsula. This led me to search again online and write to several growers on nearby Old Mission Peninsula. Sure enough I received a reply from Cindy at the Grey Hare Inn Vineyard B & B saying she had seeded and seedless concords. Great news! On our next trip north my husband and I headed out to pick grapes.
The recipe called for about three pounds. You can only do jam and preserves in relatively small batches. Rick and I did our best guessing the weight as there was no scale to be found and headed home. Oh, I forgot to mention that my husband is always willing to pick fruit and help with the canning process. It's nice to have his help :) Thanks Rick!
That first batch of delicious grape jam led to much more than I could have imagined! Little did I know I had caught the canning bug!
Next I will post the grape jam recipe with photos.
I hope you'll check back.
Thanks for reading,