Are you ready for this jelly?

 A grape revival
Doesn´t time fly when you are enjoying yourself? Its that time of year again, the jamming season is here. We take the end of season summer fruits and preserve them for our store cupboards to ensure we are provided with sweet treats to see us through the winter months. Preserves can live on shelves for months, even years, waiting to add that taste of a late September plum to a January piece of toast. This year I have broken with tradition and introduced a new jam into my repertoire.
On my first trip to the United States, all those years ago, I remember being surprised by the number of unusual preserves and spreads that I was exposed to .Nutella, apple butter, peanut butter, gianduija and the one that really surprised me the most, Smuckers Goober grape jelly with peanut butter. An extraordinary striped combo for making the ultimate peanut butter and jelly sandwich apparently. Not for me thank you. Peanut butter yes and grape jelly too but never the twain should meet. 45 years later I am still making my own home made peanut butter and while leafing through my copy of Edite Viera´s "Taste of Portugal" I unearthed a recipe for grape jam.
Grape jam is one of those lost recipes that no one seems to make any more. Its one of those things that has fallen by the wayside. In truth, there’s a good reason why grape jam fell out of favour. Traditionally it required a lot of work, namely to remove large seeds in heirloom grape varieties. Then along came seedless grapes. The first seedless grapes weren’t developed until the 1980s, and by that point, grape jelly was long since entrenched in American cuisine. As for Portugal, from where I have sourced this recipe, from the Ribatejo province,I believe it is also not made as often now as it used to be. I was extremely excited when I stumbled on this recipe because I happened to have a big bowl of grapes in the fridge that nobody was eating, so I committed myself to giving it a revival.It’s time it made a comeback.
Just to clear something up, you are probably questioning is he making grape jam or grape jelly? Jelly is not the same as jam, which is not the same as preserves, though they're all in the same family. What one recipe calls grape jam another calls jelly and so forth and so on. Marmalade is also in that family, and so is compote, but in a cousin-twice-removed kind of way. Whatever the chosen process, the way fruit breaks down to make delicious jam always fascinates me.
Most recipes these days are for “concord grape jam”, perhaps because that’s the most popular type of grape for grape jelly. It’s a flavour we’re used to for jelly, thus it’s what they suggest for grape jam. The thing is, it can be hard to find concord grapes for sale. There is no reason you can’t make grape jam with just about any variety of grape. Dark purple or blue grapes make a particularly dramatic presentation, but a bright green seedless grape jam would undoubtably have its own beautiful green

Portuguese grape Jam
1 kg cleaned dark purple or blue grapes
1 kg granulated sugar

Wash and rinse the grapes.Bring the grapes and sugar to the boil.Some of the skins will rise to the surface.Place the whole lot in a sieve over a measuring jug and press with a wooden spoon,to extract all the juice and flesh.return this to the pan.
Add the pulp/skin mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until much of the juice is evaporated and the bubbles in the jam begin to change consistency. This jam comes together really fast, quicker than any other no pectin added jam I’ve ever made.
If you’ve made jam before, you’ll recognize this change as the jam approaches gel stage. Place a plate in the freezer and use it to test the jam’s consistency by putting small amounts on the cold plate. Alternately, generally gel stage is around 220 degrees F, and you can test the jam with a thermometer.Once the jam reaches gel stage or consistency that you like, pour it into prepared canning jars.Allow the jam jars to sit for an additional 5 minutes before removing them to a towel on the counter to cool.At this point, it can take a while for the jam to fully gel. Give the jam about 48 hours to rest before you open and test one. If you find it’s too thin, you can pour them back out, recook for a while and re-can the grape jam without issue. If it’s too thick, similarly you can pour them back into the jam pot and add a bit of water to re-cook. If you tested the jam ahead of time with a plate or thermometer it should be just fine with no need to retry, but it’s nice to know that options there if you need them.


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