Well, it was a rainy, dreary weekend. So what, you ask, could be better than inviting two bored, squabbling boys into your kitchen?
Inviting them and their dog, of course.
Wait, you really didn't think I was going to peel grapes myself, did you?
Well, the boys had fun, the dog had grapes, and the whole project only took about 3 hours - 2 hours longer than probably necessary. Such is the price of helpers. It was very easy, though. We did get a break in the rain Friday afternoon, and they got enough grapes to make a small batch of jam on Saturday afternoon. If you should get your paws on some concord grapes, this is well worthwhile for the jelly lover in your house!
(Adapted from the red checkered cookbook, late 1980s vintage)
About 2 pounds grapes - 5 to 6 cups whole grapes
1 cup water
2-1/2 cups sugar
Remove the grapes from the stems. Some should be underripe. Put half in a large kettle, and peel the other half, reserving the skins, and put the peeled grapes in the kettle. Cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, over medium heat, until the grapes boil and soften. Strain the grapes, pressing the mix through the strainer; discard the seeds and such. Measure 1-1/2 cups of the remaining juices, and pour back into the kettle with the grape skins and water. Bring to a boil, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Cook about 15 minutes, uncovered, until the mixture thickens. Meanwhile, boil water in a canning bath or deep stockpot for processing the jam.
Handy information: if you have a candy thermometer, use it. Cook the jam until it's 8 degrees above the temperature of boiling water. You can check the temperature of the boiling water in your stockpot to make sure your candy thermometer is properly calibrated; mine said my water was boiling at 200F! I'd have been waiting a whole lot longer for the jam if I hadn't checked that temp against my boiling water. I digress.
After the jam is finished, ladle it into hot, sterilized half pint sized jars (I poured boiling water into mine a few minutes before I used them, then poured it out when the jam was ready). Put the lids on the jars, and place them into the stockpot of boiling water. Make sure the water covers the lids of the jars by 1", and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the jars from the boiling water with tongs at the end of 5 minutes, and set on the stovetop or a cutting board to cool. The boys haven't tried this yet, because it's not yet lunchtime, but if the smell is any indication, this will be a surefire crowd pleaser!