It’s true. It has taken me four years to make a batch of jelly.
Confused? Let me fire up the way-back machine to 2004 (yes, that’s more than four years. But I have a point, I promise!). That was the year when we put our old house in the city on the market – the house with the very old, and very amazing, Concord grape vine in the back yard – and moved out to our farmhouse with lots more land than our city house…but nary a domesticated grape vine in sight.
Some years I loved that old grape vine. Other years, such as the one that yielded 50 pounds of grapes and lots of jars of jelly, not so much. It felt wasteful to see grapes grow on that vine and do nothing with them so I took it upon myself to figure out how to make jelly. After doing a little research, I found that our University’s local Extension Service had a nice guide that would help even the most unschooled domestic successfully can themselves a batch of jelly. One trip to the “Man Mall” for supplies, and I was set up for a little jelly-making.
Setting the way-back machine dial to 2007, and you’ll find me alongside my husband, toiling over some hard clumps of soil to build a vineyard in a corner of our land. Felt like Scarlett O’Hara a time or two, and I may have called upon God to witness one or two declarations, but eventually little shoots of grape vines were planted. Over the years we’ve watched them grow and spread out in their little corner of the world. And this year, they started bearing a measurable amount of fruit.
Last week, when we got an early cold snap with a crop-freezing frost, my husband harvested what he could from the vines and came into the kitchen saying “I think we might have enough to make a batch of jelly.” Weighing the goods, and sure enough: we had a future batch of jelly on our hands.
Down to the basement I went to find my box of half-pint jars. Out of the cupboards came the pot we use for boiling water baths, and various jelly-making implements. And I got to work making jelly. For the first time, jelly from grapes started and grown by us. We got more than a dozen jars for our labors.
We’ve ordered labels with a little witty something on them to help mark the occasion. They also show the date of the jelly-making, which should help us remember how old those jars in the pantry are…if we keep them all to ourselves. (Chances are we won’t, though.)
How does the jelly taste? Quite good. A burst of grape-ness on your tongue that settles into a sweetness floating among your taste buds. Our son gave it an enthusiastic “yum!” when he tried it on toast. And when he finished the toast declared “I like it!”
Which is probably a good thing because, according to my husband, by the time these vines mature, they’ll yield a harvest about 10 times the size of what we gathered this year.