We knew nothing about grapes. Two summers ago, Rob and I planted a grape vine that also shares space on our pergola (that Rob built) with wisteria and trumpet vine. In this relatively short period of time, they went up and over giving our pergola, and yard, a very romantic look and shade to our patio.
We asked ourselves in June, “when do you think the grapes will be ready?” Two weeks ago, we had our answer: at about thirty feet away, we could smell them as soon as we opened the back door. It was the grapiest, so grape it seemed fake, grape smell I’ve ever smelled in my life. Then of course I ate a few and that decided it for sure: soft, sweet and oh so very grape. They were ready; I just hoped we were!
Eyeballing the vines, it looked like about a gallon and then the next question was, “what should we do with them?” I really didn’t want to make jelly or wine and started the hunt through my cookbooks to see if I could come up with something else. One of the best books I own is Stocking Up, the preserving and canning bible, where I found the unbelievably simple recipe for Grape Butter.
So, the picking began:
I’ve canned before, so knew what I was up against. This day was actually the perfect scenario: overcast, not real humid and a manageable amount of produce! My past experience also taught me that however grandiose my ambitions might be, bushels and extreme heat and humidity is NOT an ideal scenario with a one day or less timetable. It was also a great reason to purchase the everlong wanted and yearned for food mill. This amazing gadget separates the skins and seeds from the grape, leaving the coveted pulp behind.
The pulp was boiled for about six hours until what was pale green and about two inches from the top of the pot, cooked down into a thicker, reddish-brown mass. Grape Butter! All I can say is tart, grapey goodness.
I’m so glad we picked them when we did.
Yields 3 half-pints
This is the original recipe which tripled with our 3 gallons of grapes!
- 1 gallon grapes
- 1/4 cup water
Put grapes and water in stainless steel or enamel pot. Heat and mash grapes. Continue cooking as the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. When thicker, put through a food mill to remove skins and seeds. Return to heat and cook 2 to 3 hours until thick.
If you want to sweeten your grape butter, add honey to taste, just before canning.
When thick, pack in hot, scalded half-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath.
Inspired by Stocking Up: The Third Edition of the Classic Preserving Guide by Carol Hupping and the staff of the Rodale Food Center