Preserved: Concord Grape Jam
There are very few foods in this world that I truly hate, but one of them is grape jelly. I think it's fake-tasting, too sweet, and lacking in any true grape flavor. I cringe when my toast comes with those little purple packets at restaurants, and I prefer my peanut butter sandwiches with strawberry jam. And yet, the concord grapes looked so beautiful (so autumnal!) at the farmers' market this week I just couldn't resist buying bunch upon bunch.
Guess what? Homemade concord grape jam tastes nothing like the sticky-sweet supermarket kind. It has a deep, concentrated grape flavor, and is equally tart and sweet. As it was bubbling away on the stove, I couldn't help dipping my spoon into the pot again and again just to taste. This from a woman who once wrote off a brunch spot with perfectly poached eggs because they only stocked grape jelly.
Since grapes naturally have a lot of pectin, it's not necessary to add any to this recipe. Just make sure you cook your jam to the gel stage and it should set nicely. Don't be intimidated by having to separate the grape skins from the pulp. It's actually quite simple. Just pinch the grape between two fingers and it should pop right out.
A jar of this jam would make an excellent fall harvest-inspired gift. Try it sandwiched between peanut butter cookies or swirled into banana bread batter.
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About the author: Lucy Baker is a food writer and the author of The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets. She is currently at work on a second book about homemade food gifts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dachshund.