Kitchen / Garden / Sanctuary - Urban Homesteading to Nourish Body + Spirit

Month: September 2011 (Page 1 of 3)

Incredible Homemade Wild Grape Freezer Jam — Sugar-free & Pectin-free!

Finally, here’s my recipe for the best wild (or “Concord”) grape jam ever! The flavor really is incredible.

I’m not a big jam-maker normally. And maybe that’s because nobody ever told me that jam doesn’t have to be complicated, the way most publications make it seem. This is the easiest jam you’ll probably ever make…because I discovered by accident that you don’t need either sugar or pectin to make it!

And because it’s “freezer jam” (meaning you store it in the freezer), you won’t be sterilizing jars or canning anything. You’ll just be cooking the grapes way down, allowing the natural sugar and pectin that’s already in the fruit to do the job for you. (To give you an idea of how much jam you’ll get, 9 lbs of grapes yields about 1 quart of jam.) Then, you eat it! And if you’re going to keep it around for a while, just pop it into the freezer to extend its life.

This jam is also what I use to make my delicious Concord Grape Fruit Leather. Try it sometime!


Wild Grape Freezer Jam

Wild, or “Concord,” grapes — nice and ripe. (That’s the only ingredient!)


1. De-stem & wash your grapes.

2. Put them into a large pot, and turn to medium-low heat. No need to add any water to the pot — they’ll provide plenty as they heat up and burst. Stir frequently to prevent burning at the bottom, and to get all the grapes heated up.

3. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until most grapes have burst. The unripe ones won’t burst.

Cook the grapes until they burst…

4. Turn heat down to low, and simmer, uncovered, until the grapes have cooked down a bit. Turn off the heat and let the grape slurry cool off a bit until it’s handle-able.

5. Strain your slurry through a mesh sieve with holes just small enough to prevent the seeds from going through. A food mill can also be used here; I bought a $30 Italian-made one from Crate & Barrel several years ago to use for this purpose. When it broke, I was actually sort of glad. I went right back to using the circular sieve pictured below, and this continues to be my tool of choice — it seems quicker and more direct, and the irritation of seeds jamming up the mill is not there. I prefer it.

This is the most labor-intensive part of the whole process because you’ll really want to stir a lot and press the pulp firmly against the sides of the sieve to separate all the liquid from the seeds and skins that will be left behind. Really scrape the pulp against the sieve so that you get some of the pulp pushed through the holes into the juice. This seems to help the jam thicken up. This is also a time when you could use a blender. Before pouring the grape slurry into your sieve, pulse it several times in your blender, then pour it into the sieve. You don’t want to blend up the seeds, but the blender does help break up the grapes and pulp, making it easier to strain.

After most of the juice is strained out of each batch of pulp in the sieve, I like to put the spoon down and get my hand in there to squeeze the rest of the juice out of the pulp-and-seeds.

Once this process is complete, you’ll have plenty of soupy liquid and the pile of seeds & skins will be surprisingly small.

Strain your grape slurry through a metal sieve. The large one is nice for big batches, but the small one is my favorite, and what I use even for large batches.

Strained liquid on the right, ready to cook down into jam. The skins & seeds are on the left, ready to be tossed.

6. Now that you’ve got just the liquid, you’re ready to cook it down into jam. Pour it back into the pot and turn the burner back onto low heat. Simmer on low, uncovered, until it’s thick like…jam! This will probably take several hours especially for a big batch. Stir it fairly frequently, especially toward the end when it sticks to the bottom of the pot more readily. And turn the heat down lower when it starts to thicken; you really don’t want to burn this stuff, because of how much effort you’ve put into it. Keep it at low heat. You’ll know it’s done when you can drag your spoon through the middle of it and the track doesn’t fill back in. (EDIT 9/26/16: I have been taking it off heat even before I can see the bottom of the pan while dragging my spoon through it. It has set up well once cooled & refrigerated. So when it’s been cooking down for hours, and looking bubbly and sorta thick, and the volume has been reduced to maybe about 1/3 of the original volume of strained, soupy liquid, try cooling it and it may set up fine for you. I’m going to do more experimentation with this.)

You know it’s done when your spoon track doesn’t fill back in.

7. That’s it! Cool & store in the fridge (it’ll last a couple weeks before starting to go moldy), or in the freezer for long-term storage. You can also can this using the water bath canning method. I have been canning this grape jam for the past several years and it is my preferred storage method. It does, however, tend to crystallize for me (must be the sugars) when it’s canned. I don’t mind, but if you don’t want that, you may just want to keep it in the freezer.


(Get your family to help you de-stem those grapes!)


Autumn at the Homestead


This could certainly be a scene from a rural farmhouse, but actually it’s right here in our own urban attic apartment!

There are pickles fermenting…12 lbs of wild grapes washed & de-stemmed & waiting to be made into jam or fruit leather…lavender drying for tea through the winter…a bubbling sourdough starter waiting to be used for whole wheat sourdough tortillas or pancakes…sage drying…and heirloom Black Russian tomato seeds drying for next year.

♥~ You don’t necessarily need a farm to have a homestead! ~♥


A Play Day

We’re having the most incredible spell of perfect weather right now! Day after day, we’ve had sunny, cloudless days of no wind and low 80s. This is typical September in Colorado! The best month of the entire year.

Today was another glorious one…actually hot, it got up to 86°! So I felt grateful that I was able to shove everything aside, moneymaking work included, and go have a play day out with my mom! We had such a nice time! I’m finding that I need to make sure I have enough fun right now in my life…fun is the opposite of stress. It’s always important to have fun, but most especially when we’re under stress. Life has been, quite frankly, less than fun lately…so doing stuff like this right now — to keep the joy in life — is more important than any moneymaking work could be!

So we went to an outdoor goods store, then had coffee/tea overlooking a river. I didn’t really take any pictures, but we ended our afternoon with a trip to the health food store. I’ll show you what I got…

Some good stuff: Kalona grassfed unhomogenized milk, buttermilk for hubby, shampoo from the “gradoo pit,” unrefined sea salt, red wine vinegar, organic lettuce, a bottle of Udo’s Choice green blend powder (never tried it, but couldn’t resist) which was marked down to 99 cents from $31 because it expires next month!, arrowroot for these cookies, soba noodles (which I’m actually going to return, because I didn’t notice that they’re made in China…and as a rule, I don’t put anything into or onto my body that was made in China!), 3 organic kiwis, some earl grey & jasmine green tea, scullcap leaves for tea, coconut water, & some organic lemons which are a staple in our house! Fruit has been coming from the farmer’s market, and vegetables have been coming from my garden!


Did you have a joyful Monday today? How’s the weather in your neighborhood??


Gratitude Sunday * September 25, 2011

Sunday’s a good day to remember what we’ve been grateful for over the past week, don’t you think? I’m joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition, and here’s my list:

– Hot showers on cool mornings

– Bob Ross painting shows. Sometimes I turn one on to have in the background as I go about my day, just for the calming, soothing vibe they emit. When there’s turmoil in your life, turn on Bob Ross!

– Solar cooked quinoa, with nama shoyu raw soy sauce – yum

– Making more incredible grape jam & fruit leather. Recipes soon, I promise!

– Ear plugs

– Perfectly warmed air floating in through the windows. This is my favorite season!

– CT scan normal!!! I was so relieved. No clues yet, then, as to why I’m so sick, but I’m so glad they didn’t uncover anything scary. I feel like I take really good care of my body, and it’s gratifying to see concrete results of that.

– Eating things from my own garden. I love the energetics of that…how my food has been handled only by my own hands…not by anyone else’s, not picking up energies from anyone or anywhere else. So pure.

– Working from home. Being home during the day on weekdays — that is a lifelong dream come true!

– Preserving the bounty of kale by making delicious kale chips for enjoyment through the winter!

– 80+ degree weekend weather! And I’m gonna get out & enjoy it right now…


What blessings have you appreciated throughout your week? Leave a comment and let us know!



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