Monday, August 24, 2009

Grapes and Elderberries and Jelly, Oh My!

Daughter-in-law Jaime and her two children came to visit this weekend with a goal: learn to make jelly. The grapes were picked and in the cellar, waiting for her. The elderberries hung on the bushes, waiting for her. The kitchen was ready. She brought jars, sugar, pectin and a determination to conquer the mysteries of jelly making. We had a wonderful, sticky, hard-work time.

The photos below are of the elderberry jelly-making process.

Berries in the basket, ready to be washed and stripped from the clusters for cooking.

In the kettle, the berries are brought to a boil and simmered for 10 minutes.

Then strained through the jelly bag. This set-up was my mother's and I wonder how I did without it for so many years. It's very handy little tool and the legs unscrew for easy storage.
Someone's little fingers were in the sugar! It takes a lot of sugar for jelly--3 cups of juice (and a quarter cup of lemon juice) needs 4 1/2 cups of sugar.

The juice goes back into the pot, and the sugar is added after the juice reaches a full rolling boil. Then it's cooked and stirred until it returns to a full boil, and stirred for one more minute at a full boil. Jelly and jams like to boil over at this stage so the cook better be standing there stirring unless she wants to clean up a sticky stove.


After removing from the heat after the one-minute hard boil, the jelly is stirred and skimmed and allowed to cool for 5 minutes before jarring up. We sterilized the jars and lids in boiling water. My mother always said that skimming removes any impurities from the jelly. I'm not sure if that's true; some batches will have a lot of foam on them to be skimmed, other batches will have hardly any. It's a mystery to me how and why this happens--anyone know?
We use a canning funnel and ladle to jar up the jelly. Then we wiped around the rims of each jar to remove and little drips that might cause the jars not to seal, put the lids on, tighten them ,and flip the jars over for about 10 minutes to help them seal. After 10 minutes, we flip them upright, and voila! Jelly!

This is part of what we made this weekend. (That's sugar all over the table--we did make a nice mess in the kitchen!)
We ended up with 20 pints of grape jam, 3 of elderberry. After Jaime left I made some mixed batches of white grape and elderberry, and one of white grape, elderberry and a little orange juice because I didn't have quite enough of the other two for a full batch. This last one is very good-a nice tang to it. I made 8 or 9 pints of the mixed jellies.
Today it is recommended by food experts that jams and jellies be processed in the canner. Refer to a canning guide for recommended times and methods for different types of preserves.

7 comments:

Jason Burns said...

I love Elderberry Jelly! It has to be the best jelly on the planet!

Jaime said...

That was so much fun and I'm really looking forward to canning all sorts of fruit into jellies and jams. We've really gotten into a jar of grape jelly so far and Aaron is loving it. I'm loving not only the fact that it tastes good but that I got to check off another one of my goals.

I'm going to attach a link to my FB for my friends to see what we accomplished this weekend. I'm so proud! Next - learn how to can veggies.

Granny Sue said...

Jaime, you can post the photos to FB if you like. I'll have more to post tomorrow. Let's do vegetable soup on Labor Day. I'll let you know what to bring.

Jason--I'll reserve a jar just for you!

Anonymous said...

How did Jaime stay clean? I always get stuff on me and then it becomes the jelly making shirt! tm

Susan at Stony River said...

Congratulations on more jars for the pantry, and bravo to Jaime---I used to make jelly with my mother but I'll admit that all I remember about doing it was the cleaning up. Lots and lots of cleaning up! But the jelly was always worth it.

Granny Sue said...

There is a lot of clean-up, that's for sure, Susan. I kept washing dishes, pans and jars all afternoon. It made me think wistfuly about the dishwasher I used to have--but then remembering the electric bill wiped out any fond thoughts!

Theresa, she did stay clean! I don't know how, either. I was certainly wearing plenty of purple.

Anonymous said...

Keep on posting such stories. I like to read articles like this. Just add some pics :)

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