Remember my pledge to try new things in 2011? The very first item on my list was making homemade grape jelly. I'm thrilled that I was able to partner with Welch's to accomplish this while promoting a cause that's near and dear to me: heart healthiness!
As you might know from previous posts, I have a strong family history of heart disease. While my own health has remained good with no indication of heart problems, I know that my best defense against a future of heart disease is being proactive now. In addition to screenings your own doctor may recommend, exercise and a heart-healthy diet are essential to doing my best to defend myself against heart disease. I'm already reducing my salt intake and eating more tomatoes, and now I'm learning all about how concord grapes may help improve our cardiovascular health. While I knew that grapes were a heart-healthy fruit, I had no idea about all the research that's being done to explore the following cardiovascular conditions:
- Concord grapes may help support flexible arteries for healthy blood flow.
- Concord grapes may help promote healthy, clear arteries.
- Concord grapes have been shown to have an anti-clotting effect similar to red wine.
- Concord grapes may play a role in healthy blood pressure.
While I'm not a doctor, I do know that I'm a healthy person, and it makes me so happy to think that consuming grape juice may play a role in improving my overall heart health!
Like I've said before, my family history is marked by heart disease in many places. Welch's is helping me track it with the Welch's Family Vine Tool. After all the information is filled in, I'm also able to share that information with my brother, sister and other family members to show our history and what it might mean to us.
Welch's wants to promote healthy heart awareness with a little blogging campaign called “Paint it Purple.” As soon as I was invited to participate, I knew I wanted to incorporate it into my Trying New Things plan for the year! Grape jelly's main ingredient is grape juice, and Welch's 100% Grape Juice with Concord Grapes is the perfect product for my jelly! In addition to the health factor, I wanted to make jelly for my family to give them a jelly that's free from high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and preservatives found in store-bought jelly.
Making my own jelly turned out to be a really fun and easy experience! I used a grape jelly recipe that I found in one of my favorite cookbooks, Family Feasts for $75 a Week. The ingredients are just grape juice, lemon juice, sugar and pectin.
The hard part is rounding up all the necessary canning supplies used to preserve the jelly, plus the task of the canning itself. Fortunately, I have canning equipment and I love the sense of accomplishment I get from canning a batch of anything, so I was game to make my jelly last night. Plus, the cookbook author assured me on her blog that a batch of jelly takes about an hour (more for an inexperienced canner), so I was confident that it wouldn't consume my entire evening.
Making homemade grape jelly took me about 90 minutes from start to finish. That's from washing the jars all the way to dumping out the hot water from my canning pot. In the end, I wound up with 14 cups of grape jelly, making it time well spent! Plus, my little ones love the homemade jelly on their peanut butter sandwiches!
Here's the recipe and instructions for how to make homemade grape jelly:
- 3 1/2 cups grape juice
- 5 1/2 cups sugar
- One 2 oz box pectin
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
Canning Supplies Needed
- pint or 1-cup canning jars
- canning lids and rings
- Canning pot or large stockpot (your jars need to be fully submerged). (I use my versatile Le Creuset Enamel 12-Quart Covered Stockpot rather than a traditional canning pot since a huge stockpot is SO multipurpose!
- Canning tongs (this entire canning kit is incredibly useful if you're planning to can stuff more than once in your lifetime.)
- Thoroughly wash your jars and rings in hot soapy water and set them on a towel to dry.
- Fill your canning pot halfway and put it over high heat on the stove.
- When the water gets to a simmer/boil, submerge the jars, lids and rings for at least 30 seconds to sterilize them.
- Pull them out of the water with tongs or a magnet and put them on a towel to dry.
- Leave your water on the burner so it's ready to go when the jelly's ready.
Making the Homemade Grape Jelly
- Combine the grape juice, lemon, and pectin into a different pot, and stir until pectin is dissolved.
- Heat the grape juice mixture until it gets to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
- Quickly add all the sugar, stirring briskly with a wooden spoon to mix well. Return to a full rolling boil and boil for 2 minutes.
- Pour jelly mixture into jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Do not overfill. I used a big, deep serving spoon. It isn't quite as large as a ladle, so I had more control over filling the jars.
- Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean cloth and make sure that no jelly residue remains.
- Put lids on jars, then screw the rings on firmly.
- Place jars in the boiling water, making sure there is enough water to cover the jars with at least a 1/2 inch of water.
- Bring canning water to a rolling boil. Once the water is at boiling, let the jars sit for 10 minutes.
- Remove the jars and place on a thick towel to dry and cool.
- Once the jars start cooling you'll hear the lids audibly “popping” as they seal up.
- After they cool, press down on the top center of each of the jars to make sure the lid doesn't pop up and down. If it does, the jar wasn't properly sealed.
- If your jar didn't seal during the canning process, don't worry! You can remove the ring and the lid, clean all around the top and rim of the jar and reposition the lid and ring. Then go ahead and reprocess the jar in a boiling water bath.
- Don't feel like reprocessing the jars that didn't seal? Just throw them in the fridge and remember that the jelly won't keep nearly as long as the stuff that was properly sealed and canned. Use it within a week or two and you'll be fine!
The experience of making my own grape jelly was fun, and I'll definitely do it again. It's just an added perk that I got to do it while doing my little part to promote heart health!
I've commited to trying 10 new things in 2011! Here's my list and everything that's been accomplished so far:
Make homemade jelly
- Sew a pillowcase dress for Piper
Start using a daily planner Make homemade granola
- Switch to the envelope system for budgeting
- Eat from the pantry for a month
- Sew a trucks & cars quilt for Haiden
- Become a Sneaky Chef
- Organize our toys
- Make Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Welch’s and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a gift code to thank me for taking the time to participate.