Two weeks ago, I picked grapes from the arbor out back with the kids, and made jelly. It was my first time ever making grape jelly. I was so excited to be using grapes from our own vines.
To make the jelly, I followed this recipe from pickyourown.org. Well, I mostly followed it. Actually I neglected a pretty important detail. The author suggests checking to see that the jelly is ready by putting a bit into a chilled spoon and watching how firmly it sets. I later read that grapes are especially variable in the amount of pectin they contain naturally, so you start with the smallest amount of packaged pectin that might be needed and then add more as necessary. Although it didn’t set as firmly as I’d have liked in the chilled spoon (hardly at all, in fact), I didn’t think I needed to add more pectin (even though she explicitly said YOU WILL PROBABLY NEED MORE THAN A SINGLE PACKET OF PECTIN), especially since I had run out. And one child was screaming and one was whining and I was ready to be DONE. And I was too sleep-deprived to make a well-reasoned decision. Not surprisingly, it didn’t set.
Luckily, pickyourown.org also has instructions on how to fix jelly that hasn’t set: dump the jelly out into a pot. Wash and re-sanitize the jars. Heat the jelly again. ADD MORE PECTIN, starting with a handy little table that gives amounts of lemon juice, sugar, pectin, and water for different amounts of unset jelly. Water bath again. And… we have green Concord grape jelly! It tastes almost like the grape jelly you buy in a store, but with a bit less intensity. I’m not sure why it’s different. Maybe the green ones are more mild? Maybe they could have used another week to ripen? In any case, I’m pretty happy with it. So delicious.