I had opportunity to gather some concord grapes, and let me tell you, there was an abundance of them! The question quickly became what to do with them all? I started looking through my recipes and cookbooks to see if there was anything different that I could make with them, and nothing was speaking to me except one interesting recipe for Zesty Grape Conserve which contained hot peppers. It promised to add some kick to your peanut butter sandwiches. I am always on the search for odd and interesting, whether it be on a restaurant’s menu or in a recipe book – something fun that adds a smile to the day in the simplest way. So….that would account for some of my grapes, but what to do with the rest?
I decided I have too many grape-related items on my basement shelves at present – I still have grape juice concentrate from last year, as well as some grape jelly – so the remainder would go towards gifts this year to family and friends. I have realized not everyone enjoys my food oddities, so I thought the best way to get a feel for what people would be drawn towards is holding a vote on social media. I gave the options of grape jelly, cinnamon grape preserves, or grape juice. Grape jelly won hands down, but the cinnamon grape preserves received several votes from the adventurous as well. The juice only received one sad little vote, and I wondered if it wasn’t a pity vote. With the decision made, I started the de-stemming and cleaning process. Jelly is a great choice for anything with seeds or skins and makes for a fairly painless process. Boil, drain in a jelly bag, add your sugar and pectin, and bottle. There isn’t the tedious work of chopping fine or pitting or peeling. All you want is the juice, the flavour.
I made 2 batches of jelly and realized I still had A LOT of grapes. So I made the zesty grape conserve. And the cinnamon grape preserves. And of course I ate some grapes fresh during all this preparation, too. Oh the flavour! Sweet and rich – there is nothing quite like the concord grape. The conserve and preserves both required pinching the skins off the grapes so they could be added later, once the seeds were removed. My fingers were stained purple, my house was permeated with the scent of grape, but they were finally done.
Zesty Grape Conserve from my Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving