Think of the cooling shadows of summer which benevolent Nature spreads over her darling forests and gardens.....summer shadows of wonderful depth and brilliancy like the wings of a mother bird over her young."
~John Muir~ from a journal, 1913?~
This is what we woke up to this morning....
So, it's a good thing that I saw this before I heard the Prospector say, "If you think that's amazing, look at this." I turned around to see this...
So, instead of writing my post about the amazing Jelly Making endeavor, I spent the morning helping my husband cut and remove this huge branch that decide to fall. not during a storm or massive winds, or from some accidentental UPS diver that didn't stop soon enough. Oh no!
Sometime during the calm and beautiful night this tree limb just decided to take a dive for no apparent reason other than gravity. I'm very glad that the limb landed on the porch roof and not on my kitchen garden window, with all the McCoy pottery in it. In fact...no damage was done at all, except for a few cuts and scrapes on the two old farmhands (that would be us) that spent the morning doing something that they had not expected to do.
I think it looks much cleaner and I'm glad it didn't fall on anyone sitting in it's shade....like me.... with my ice tea, enjoying my well deserved rest yesterday afternoon after making jelly.
See how nice it looks...
Ok, on to the jelly making.....
Pick Your Own, I would have probably floundered more miserably at my first foray into making jelly. These are the most precise directions I have ever seen and I needed PRECISE directions. I think that this website is even better than having my husband's grandmother right there in the kitchen with me.
I loved ya Vannie! You showed me how to use lettuce cores instead of throwing them away and you taught me not to whine about things; which stuck like gum on the bathroom ceiling until gravity let it fall. You didn't live long enough to see this computer revolution but you would be amazed at the information that can be found.
Even the Sure Jell directions didn't explain this process as well as Benivia at Pick Your Own. I just want everyone to know that she leaves nothing to guess at....she even has pictures. She has prices and where to find everything you need. She made it look easy. Now, that's where I think she failed me.
I have made Jam lots of times. I just make a batch of Strawberry jam a few weeks back. Jam is easy. Jelly is easy once you get to the "cook it and put it in the jars" part. I don't want to bore you with details but I probably will. I just want to say that 5 lbs of fresh grapes does not always equal 5 cups of grape juice. Mushing the grapes with a potato masher looks easy in theory but it's a bear and .... the juice does not FLOW through the jelly strainer. It sits there and looks at you. It takes an hour, with a spoon, not 20 minutes. Benivia called it "decanting" the clear liquid. I call it a mess.
That might as well be blood on my foot. I feel like I sweat blood over all of this... but it's just some crushed grapes that decided to leave the debacle in the kitchen while they still had a chance. I know, I should have shoes on but I love being domestic in my bare feet. Sorry Vannie. I know it's just not fittin'.
So I finally got enough juice to make the jelly... and yes, I squeezed the bag.
Benivia said that I could stop after this step. I could even finish the next day. That was tempting but I didn't want to get tartrate crystals in my jelly and have to strain the damn juice again. It was lunchtime and I needed to eat something. I went straight for the Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream.
Because I used the "no sugar" pectin I only had to use 4 cups of sugar instead of 7 cups. But you still have to use sugar in the "no sugar" pectin. That's weird. Benivia says it tastes better. Well, yes. Everything tastes better with sugar in it...especially Jam and Jelly. These are the mysteries of making jelly that confuse me. Why would it say "no sugar" if you still have to put sugar in it. and....she says that she,"... never has success using NO added sugar with the no-sugar pectin." What?
I followed the directions and added 4 cups of sugar and even though I need to work on controlling the MESS...
Did you know that you have to process things longer at higher altitudes? I didn't. In fact, and here comes a confession, I usually don't process my jam at all. I just ladle the hot jam into the hot sterile jars, put the sterilized lids and rings on, invert them and wait for the lid to "pop". I will process from now on, for 10 minutes, just to be safe. It said that if you live between 1001ft. - 6000ft. (I'm on the low end of the range) you should boil them for 10 minutes. Of course the water took that long to re-boil once I got the jars in the water, so I may have done it for 20 mins. or so.... but they are PROCESSED.
I removed the jars, carefully, with my new lifter tongs and let them cool. They all "popped". Then I
cleaned up the kitchen for the 5th time and took a nap.
I still have another 5# of grapes in the garage. Anyone interested? They're yours.
Don't ask me if I'm going to make Jelly again.... at least until next summer.