Its been a while. The world got crazy. But here I am again with a few good recipes made with apples, rose hips and grapes after a few frosts that lead to some pretty amazing Apple Butter and Grape Jam.
The secret here is that every jam follows a basic recipe of a few pounds of fruit, a package of pectin to give it the right texture, and a few cups of sugar to make sure it’s sweet. It all gets boiled down together into a delicious, sticky mess.
Lucky for me and my friends, apples, rose hips and citrus all have pectin naturally, and if you use enough, you can forego the store bought pectin. Even better, after the first frost (or the first few) all that freezing and thawing creates more sugar in the fruit, which means less refined sugar needed when you boil it all down.
The first recipe is more of a process for making grape jam than a recipe and it is specific to grapes that can be picked off the vine late, store bought will require more sugar.
Unfortunately, we did not take a ton of good photos of the process so you will have to rely on my descriptive writing skills to follow along 😉
Rose hips are a great source of pectin and the flavor is actually really nice, but they are a PAIN IN THE ASS to work with. The seeds are tiny and spiky, they fill the whole center of the rose hip and getting them out can lead to the total destruction of the tiny bit of fruit you are after. These were free to us as we have a serious wild rose bush problem and were able to pick two pounds in an hour, but honestly, I am not sure they are worth the effort.
We washed all the grapes and removed the larger stems before pressing the grapes to get out all the delicious juice. After pressing we saved about two gallon ziplocks worth of pulp, not quite the whole two pounds.
Next we boiled the juice, pulp and a cup of rose hips (seeds removed) in a big pot with only 1/2c of added sugar. The real hard part was constantly stirring so that it wouldn’t burn (ok, we may have let it burn a little, oops). We did this for over an hour until a dollop on a frozen plate kept it shape.
As someone who does not usually love grape jelly – this may be my new favorite.
Now apple butter. Also one of the easiest things ever. Again, this process is specific to apples that can be picked after the first frost or two, as store bought require more sugar which creates a different flavor, not bad just different.
Luckily you do not have to sit and stir this, the apples will create plenty of juice to keep them rolling for an hour as they break down.
Once they are mash-able go to town (I used a potato masher) and then pressed the mash through a fine metal sieve (use whatever you might have in your kitchen, get creative! No need to buy a sieve) to get out all the seeds and weird bits that don’t break down.
Finally we boiled it all down again, this time stirring constantly for up to an hour until it passes the frozen plate test.