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Let me introduce you to a grape jam that is a far cry from grocery store bought concord purple jelly! A grape jam that is, dare I say, mindblowing. Yes it is that good.
This jam is all about technique. The ingredients are the usual jammy suspects but my technique will get your jam full of chewy texture, depths of flavor grapes can get and versatility that leaves PB & J in the rear view. This jam has a raisinated taste that reminds me of amarone wine.
How to make grape jam
- time (budget about an hour for this project)
- splatter screen (we may make a bit of a hot sugar mess otherwise)
- large heavy metal or enamel cast iron pot to allow for bubbling up. Something 6 qt. capacity or larger. If you have a proper stockpot that will work too.
- potato hand masher AND an immersion blender
- long wooden spoon
- thermometer that reaches 220F degrees
- clean prepared jam jars to hold 32-40 ounces total
- fresh lemons to total 3 Tbsp of juice (optional: zest beforehand if you like and add it just before putting in jars)
- 9 cups of seedless grapes, red, green, black or mixture of both. (if you use any amount of black grapes the entire mixture will be that color) If you are buying by weight you will need about 58 ounces total after cleaned from the stems and any dark/moldy tips trimmed off
- 3 cups of white sugar
Zest your lemon ahead of time
Get this step done before you juice lemons near the end cook time. You will have plenty of time to do it during the first half hour.
My heat temps are based on a 1-10 electric stove.
Put your washed trimmed grapes and sugar in the pot set over heat level 5 .
Begin breaking up 1/3 of grapes with potato masher to create juice otherwise the sugar will burn before the grapes break down. Stir occasionally.
Using an immersion blender , pulse 8-10 times to further break down the grapes leaving it chunky.
Around 40-50 minutes it should be at or close to 220F. Turn up the heat to 6 and get the splatter cover. Now begins the caramelizing step of the process. Things happen quickly now. Your mixture will have reduced by 60% or more at this stage.
Once 220F is achieved you know your jam will set but we’re going to take it past just set. Now add the lemon juice. Let the jam bubble and don’t stir for 90 seconds to 2 minute intervals. When you go to stir it you will feel resistance at the bottom of the pan as the sugar is starting to stick.
The mixture will make an angry spitting boil each time. Have the splatter screen ready! This will be repeated 5-10 times until you start to smell the sugar caramelizing. You can take it just to the pre-burn stage if you like but if you’re not that daring just keep stirring at the timed intervals.
Don’t mind if it gets too thick, you can rehydrate after the flavor is developed to a desired jammy consistency. Keep a metal spoon in ice water next to you so you can dip and taste to sense the change in sugar flavor. It cools quickly but don’t burn your finger or tongue!
Once the flavor profile is to your liking, turn off the heat and decide if you want to loosen it up by rehydrating with water. If you don’t rehydrate it will be more of a paste consistency when it cools. I use 1-2 full cups of water added back and still have a thick jam. Stir in lemon zest if desired. Put in jars and allow to cool for several hours before putting in the fridge.
You may like the peach jam recipe that uses the same technique.
Use as a base to sauce proteins (try herbs and mustard or dress up your bbq sauce) or use as a condiment. Great in your plain yogurt or cottage cheese, on a ham and cheese sandwich, on top of cake, on a cheese board.