making grape jelly (or not), step one: make juice

Not Far From the Tree summary: making grape juice; how not to make grape jelly; information about Not Far From the Tree; (click on images for more photos and larger views)

grape juice We made the most spectacular green grape juice a few weeks ago and foolishly didn’t take pictures. After picking blue grapes, we remedied the situation and took photos as we started to make blue grape jelly.

grape juice Well, we were GOING to make jelly… we thought that the “Not Far From the Tree” blue grapes would make great jelly.

As we washed and pulled grapes off their stems, we talked about pectin. Should we add it? Should we hope it would work without? Should we just add lemon juice? Or maybe a few cranberries because they have natural pectin?

We decided to mull it over.

And then we began step one of jelly making: boiling the grapes to make juice.

grape juice We put the washed grapes into a big pot and just covered them with water. Then we brought them to a boil, immediately turned down the heat and simmered them for about ten minutes.

The aroma! In spite of the fact that the grapes hadn’t begun to ferment, it was intoxicating. No wonder people make grape jelly! And jam… and wine….

Forget making cookies just before having an open house to sell it. Have grapes simmering on the stove!

grape juice After simmering, we turned the heat off and used a potato masher to break the grapes up a little more. Then we took the pot off the stove and let the grapes cool a little more before starting to ladle them into the food mill to separate the skins and seeds.

We used the medium holes on the food mill – we wanted to leave some of the solids in the juice.

grape juice We tasted the juice before putting it into a pillow case to strain for jelly making. It was delicious!

We tasted a little more. It was even more delicious than we had first thought!

We couldn’t stop. It was too good. It was sweet from the grapes but had a slight tartness and wildness from the pulp that remained.

The juice was so delicious that we decided we’d make jelly out of just one cup of the juice, pouring it into a little muslin bag. (Why do we even have a bag like that, I wonder?) We left the bag hanging overnight. The next morning, after sieving out the ecstatic fruitflies (and a few fruitflies who had died happily) we tasted the juice.

grape juice Hey! It’s Concord grape juice! It tasted JUST like Welch’s grape juice. Ewwwww! I loathe Welch’s Concord grape juice. It’s too sweet. We nixed jelly making for now (who wants Concord grape jelly??) and threw the rest of the strained juice back into the jug of unstrained delicious juice in the fridge. Maybe if I pick more green grapes, we’ll make green grape jelly.

Oh yes. Before I forget: to pectin or not to pectin. We’ll decide later. After we have another glass of juice. :-)

Not Far From the Tree Not Far From the Tree

“Not Far From the Tree” is a Toronto organization that includes a residential fruit-picking program to pick fruit (with permission, of course) that would otherwise go to waste.

There are lots and lots of fruit trees and vines in Toronto!! Bearing fruit that is eaten by birds, squirrels and raccoons. If you have such a thing in your garden and would like the animals to share the fruit with people, please do contact “Not Far From the Tree”. They will send a team of pickers to clean up your yard of fallen fruit and pick the good fruit that is still in the tree. The harvested fruit is divided evenly into 3 portions: one third going to the tree owners, one third going to the volunteer pickers and the final third going to food banks, shelters, and community kitchens.

For more information about NFFtT and how you can donate your time and/or share your fruit, please go to

We had some for breakfast this morning.
It was as delicious as ever
grape juicegrape juice

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