Tuesday, October 9, 2007

We Be Jammin'

If you've been following along on this blog you will know that I made grape jelly with Concord Grapes purchased for our local farmer's market. I was so happy to find a use for these delicious gifts of the gods. Of course, to make jelly, you need to extrude all the juice and leave the skins and seeds and even some of the pulp behind. Then you need to add SIX CUPS of sugar. My kids, husband and Mother in Law all loved the jelly and it came out very well, however, I thought it was too sweet for some reason. Plus, I don't know about you, but I haven't even bothered to try to look for a local source of sugar.

So, after I made jelly once and was satisfied that it could be done (and not just become a grape sauce) I purchased a type of pectin made by Ball which says it does not require the use of sugar. The end result is that I made 8 8 oz. jars of grape jam with only one cup of local honey, and it is still very, very good. And tastes more like grapes. Here's what I did.

1. First I weighed out four pounds of grapes--despite the fact that the recipe on the box said to use 3 pounds (these were from Harvest Valley Farms).
2. I then pinched each one to separate the inside and the skin. The skins went into the bowl for my food processor and the insides went into a large pot.
3. After the grapes were all separated, I chopped the skins in the food processor into small pieces and set them aside.
4. I mashed the insides slightly with a potato masher and cooked them with 1 cup of apple cider (from Kistaco Orchards at the East Liberty Farmer's Market Cooperative on Saturdays). I brought them to a boil and then simmered them for 10 minutes.
5. I then put the pulp through a food mill to separate out the seeds.
6. Then I combined the pulp with the skins in a large pot with the special pectin to heat it.
7. After that came to a rolling boil, I added the one cup of honey. I got mine at the East Liberty Farmer's Market from the "Fine Family Apiary" from Monogahela (724-258-3834). We got the dark fall honey which is very mild in taste.
8. After that returned to a rolling boil, I let it boil hard for three minutes.
9. After that, I ladled into sterilized jars, put on lids and processed in a hot water bath canner for 5 minutes.

My next trial will be to do it without pectin.


Jessica said...

I am a western Pennsylvania girl now living in Vermont. There is a lot of focus on eating local here, and I have often wondered what kind of resources there are for those who want to eat local in western PA. Do you know of any organizations that provide resources for localvores in the greater Pittsburgh area? Or, do you know where to find information about farmer's markets in southwestern PA?

Cindy Green said...

I have been longing and looking for some kind of support group and have not really found anything. I was hoping to at least create a web forum with specific information with this blog. Slow Food Pittsburgh is theoretically the best resource. Here are some websites sent from their main squeeze, Marlene Parrish, a food writer for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and local locavore.

Here is the website for the citiparks farmers markets.


Here's a more complete list from the local newspaper.

Here are the other websites which may prove helpful:

1) www.foodroutes.org
The FoodRoutes web site is a fantastic resource for those seeking information on our food system. It offers communications tools, technical support, networking and information resources to organizations and groups nationwide that are working to rebuild local, community-based food systems. Their website has a 'Find Good Food' searchable database powered by LocalHarvest.org. FoodRoutes Network has created partnerships with community-based nonprofit organizations across the country involved in nurturing strong regional markets for locally grown foods. Each organization is creating and implementing a "Buy Local" marketing campaign helps bridge gaps between community farmers and consumers.

2) www.pasafarming.org
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture works with the farmers that grow our food, the consumers that eat the food, and those concerned with the ecological well-being of our environment and natural resources. PASA educates consumers about about local farms and where they are located. Marketing includes sponsorship of local food events and an online e-newsletter.

2) www.buylocalpa.org
Buy Fresh Buy Local is the national initiative by FoodRoutes Network to promote locally grown foods. PASA is a regional partner with Food Routes. The Pennsylvania campaign is part of an even larger, nationwide BFBL initiative organized by FoodRoutes Network.

4) www.localharvest.org
The web site allows farmer members to create an extensive custom entry including photos of the farm, and allows visitors to sign up for customized updates that are sent whenever a new listing is added or an existing listing is modified within a particular area. They also have a new calendar section and online store. LocalHarvest includes PASA as an option in their registration process so people who want to find PASA members in their area will get a complete list.

5) www.eatwellguide.org
Traveling? The Eat Well Guide is the easiest and most comprehensive way to find wholesome, fresh, sustainable food in the U.S. and Canada. Find food in your neighborhood and when you travel that is healthful, raised humanely, better for the environment and that supports family farmers.

6) www.slowfoodpgh.com
The local chapter of Slow Food USA promotes fresh, local and sustainably grown food. Special projects include support of Farmers@Firehouse Market and LapTop Butchershop, a quarterly opportunity for purchasing pastured foods by e-mail. Monthly events promote chefs, restaurants, ethnic diversity and the pleasures of the table.

7) www.locavores.com
These locavores (no “L” in the spelling) are a group of concerned culinary adventurers who are making an effort to eat only foods grown or harvested within a 100 mile radius of San Francisco. “We recognize that the choices we make about what foods we choose to eat are important politically, environmentally, economically, and healthfully.”

Anonymous said...

Another option on the pectin front is to make your own pectin concentrate from apples. There's instructions in Preserving Summer's Bounty. It is too late to get the early summer thinnings, but you can also make it with the too-buggy-for-anything-else drops (like mine, hint, hint). It is kind of time intensive, but I've been told it works well. I've never done it myself, but it's worth a try.

Anonymous said...

There's also edible Allegheny