Friday, September 07, 2007

Wild Grapes (A Tideover Post)

So my excuse this week for not posting is that I haven't really been doing any cooking. They didn't manage to get around to refilling our fuel tank for the stove until last night (Thursday)! UGH! And then--bless his heart--our next-door neighbor, Ken, came over and got the pilot light relit for us with some effort, but it was almost 9pm on a school night by that time. So now I have to try to do all of the baking that I can do for the farmers' market in one evening (tonight)! AAARRRRGH! No sleep rule firmly in effect. :-(

In the meantime, I will share another excellent recipe for seasonal preserves with you. Ken and I tried to go berry picking the weekend before last, and though we were disappointed to have missed the blackberries, we were delighted to discover lots of wild grapes! I forgot to take a picture of them, but here's what they look like:

It is is VERY important to be able to accurately identify wild plants so that you don't end up poisoning yourself or the people you love and/or share your preserves with! There is a plant that looks very similar to wild grapes that is toxic, and it's called Moonseed (pretty name for such a mean plant!). The berries look similar, but the leaves are different. True wild grapes have leaves that are similar in shape to maple leaves, but with pointy(-er) edges. Wild grapes are insidious vines that grow over other bushes and trees (threatening to choke out other plants). You may even have them in your back yard, and I also saw some right in downtown Plattsburgh the other day, growing over a fence (next-door to the Koffee Kat on Margaret Street, for my local readers). The seeds in wild grapes are oval-shaped, whereas they are crescent-shaped in the moonseed berries--hence, the lovely name. So just be careful out there!

Wild grapes are much smaller than table grapes and very tart, but they make a delicious jelly. (I wouldn't recommend them for jam as they are too seedy.) I found this recipe online, and the jelly I made from it was quite wonderful.

Wild Grape Jelly

3 lbs. wild grapes, stemmed
3 cups water
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 (85 ml) package liquid pectin (I used Certo)

In large saucepan, crush grapes with potato masher; pour in water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until fruit is very soft. Transfer to jelly bag or colander lined with a double thickness of fine cheesecloth and let drip overnight. (I used a flour sack towel tied to a curtain rod as I did when I made the red currant jelly earlier this summer.)

The next day, measure the juice (you should have 3 cups/750 ml) into a large heavy saucepan; stir in sugar. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full boil and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.

Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/8 inch headspace. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to know if i have wild grapes along my fince. I live in fl. I do not have pics. They have all the looks of grapes, but the leaves are 1 1\4 to 3\4 of an inch. Most of the wild grapes I see in the woods around here have 2" to 3" leaves