Monday, January 23, 2012

Concord grapes in an apple tree

Concord grapes
One late Summer morning after my mom died, Grandpa came to the house with his little Ford tractor towing behind it a little black and battered wagon. He called to me to get a couple of clean garbage cans and load them into the wagon...we were going grape picking. I did what he asked and climbed onto the back of the tractor, completely baffled...I didn't know we had grapes growing on the farm! 

We went up to the top of the hill, and across the road from the fishing pond that I spoke about in my last blog, was another field and at the very top of it was a huge apple tree. Wrapped all throughout the apple tree were a grape vines, with huge clumps of concord grapes hanging down between the apples and leaves. 

Grandpa pulled the old wooden ladder out of the wagon, and propped it securely against the tree. Without hesitating, he climbed up and began cutting clumps of grapes off, then handing them down to me to gingerly put into the garbage cans. It didn't take only about an hour or two (tops) to completely fill both of those garbage cans. 

Once home and unloaded, I was left with the task of 'what' to do with them. I had never made jams or jellies but I was about to learn. I felt up to the task but had to get the know-how, so I went to one of my mom's cookbooks and began educating myself all about canning jams and/or jellies.

The exact cookbook I used!
Of course, I had to do some shopping...I needed pint canning jars, rings and lids, paraffin wax and a few other things that were not something we kept on hand in the cupboards. Dad gave me the go-ahead and I bought what I would need. 

If you have never made grape jam before, it can be a daunting task. I remember trying two different ways...the first being squeezing the pulp out of the grape by one grape, then later I made it a little easier by cooking the grapes a little and then running them through a food mill. (Hey--it was faster and saved my fingers from turning various shades of purple!) 

By the time that it was all said and done, I had made a couple of dozen pints of grape jam...which was shared with my grand-parents, aunts and uncles. I was so proud of myself! (And I know mom would have been proud of me too!) 

That was the first...and last time that I ever made jam...although given the chance to get 'free' grapes again, you can bet I would. That was the best tasting jam I think I have ever had!  There is nothing that tastes better than something home made!


  1. I remember my mom making jams sometimes & making me help her! I hated all that long work! And I don't even LIKE eating jam! Grrrrr

    1. I don't know if my mom ever made jellies or jams...but I don't remember her making them. It is tedious work...

  2. My mother made grape jam a few times as well as strawberry jam. For the grape I am not sure of the whole process that she did but I know the crushed grapes were put hung in cheesecloth and the juice dripped down into a container.
    The types of jam I use to make were freezer jams. They would taste like the fresh fruit they were made from. I especially liked the black-raspberry that we would get in a field near where we had a cottage in northern Mich. Freezer peach jam was the worst to make and I only made that one time.

    1. I have never tried making freezer jams, but someone gave us peach jam here about Christmas time. I tried it and it was wayyyyy to sweet for my tastes, so I am not sure that I would bother making it if they are all that sweet.