04 August 2011

Jammin' Through the Sieve.

See what I did there?
I put jam through a sieve today.
(terrible pun.)

Because our berry plants don't have any berries this year (perhaps due to the fact that we neglect them), I couldn't complete my yearly berry-jam-making ritual. Okay, not ritual, but tradition. It's only been a two-year tradition, though. Since there are no berries, I decided to make grape jam. Actually, to be more specific and gourmet-sounding, I made organic garden-fresh-but-from-the-wild-part-of-the-garden spherical green grape jam with a hint of mint and lime.
The problem with grape jam is that it looks a bit like pickle juice and I lack the machinery to separate the seeds from the jam/pulp. Therefore, I now have four jars of chunky, perfect textured jam-with-seeds and one jar of thin sifted-jam-without-seeds.

I also realised that I ought to measure everything using metric units because it just makes so much more sense. I did grow up with metric, but I only started cooking a lot when I moved to the U.S., so cooking measurements for me have been the whole cups-tbps-tsp thing instead of grams. Grams are better though, especially since I do have a food scale.
Ingredients for about 1.5 L of jam (5 jars)
12 cups/1560 g green grapes that are spherical and extremely sour (from the grape plant outside)
3 cups/540 g granulated sugar (or more. This one was on the sour side because I like sour jam)
7 mint candies
A few shakes of mint flakes
A spoonful of maltose (just because my mum happened to have some from cooking something; completely optional)
Some lime zest (pectin, optional)

Ingredients for a 300 ml jar of jam
310 g green grapes
110 g granulated sugar, or more, to taste
2 mint candies
Some mint flakes
Some lime zest

1. The night before, stick everything in a pot. I didn't do this, but the osmosis should help reduce cooking time the next day.
2. Turn heat on high and stir. Don't be afraid of scorching any grapes.
3. 20 minutes later, there should be liquid at the bottom of the pot and the grapes should still be sort of hard, but some will be mushy. Keep stirring and wait for the water to boil. The grapes will turn from bright green to... olive-coloured.
4. Turn heat onto medium-low and let it simmer for about 2 hours, stirring every 10 minutes or so. All the grapes should be mushy now! The jam will look ugly. You can check the gooeyness of the jam by dropping some jam onto a plate, letting it cool, and seeing if it is the consistency you want. You can also adjust the sweetness at any point in the 2 hours.
5. If you really want to, sift jam into jar. I tried to do this for the first jar, but it didn't work because I don't have a sieve that everything except the seeds flow through. I also wanted the grape skins (basically, everything except for the seeds). I suppose this is the negative side of making grape jam with non-GMO grapes.

6. Wait for jar of jam to cool, then stick it in the fridge. I know you're supposed to do stuff with the jars with the water bath in order to sterilise the jars, but since we're sticking the jam in a fridge and consuming the jams (yeah... all 5 jars...) within a few months, I don't think that this is necessary. In addition, there is a lot of acid in this specific batch of jam. The grapes were really sour.

So now I know why you don't see green grape jam at the grocery store. It doesn't look that appetising. Seriously, though, this jam is way better than the store-bought flavourless and textureless jam!!

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