This past week I took a jar of our homemade muscadine jam to our son Joe and his wife Michelle in California. Everybody seemed to really enjoy it. Lee and I enjoy it too, and I am convinced that we should make a lot more of it next year. We know that muscadines grow well at Longleaf Breeze, so I have high hopes of cultivating them and not simply relying on gathering the ones that grow wild on vines around our land.
Here’s how we made our jam last year. We picked about 5 gallons of grapes total. We slit each grape and separated the seedy pulp inside from the skin, a process more tedious than you can imagine. We placed the skins in the food processor to grind them up into chunks no bigger than 1/8 inch. Lee and I have a running dialogue about this; I like to chop the skins up more finely than he does. We cooked the chopped skins for about 15 minutes (not too much heat), and we added just a touch of water to keep the skins from sticking to the pot. We simmered the pulpy material (still containing the seeds) until the seeds separated from the pulp. Then we poured the mixture through a sieve, picking out the seeds and saving the juicy pulp, which we then combined with the skins. We added a little sugar. The recipes we found online called for 3 parts sugar for every four parts grapes, but we used a
lot less. We ended up using 1/2 cup of sugar per quart of whole muscadines. We slowly brought the combined mixture (skins, pulp, and sugar) to a boil and cooked it for about 10 minutes, stirring more at the end because it gets thicker as it cooks. Then we poured the mixture into water bath canning jars, using standard sterilization procedures on the jars. We left about 1/4 inch head room at the top of each jar. We’ll have a post soon about how we use the water bath canner. The jars stayed in the boiling water bath for 15 minutes. When we took the jars out and put them on the counter, we soon heard each jar lid “pop” as the material inside cooled and contracted. This was our sign that they were sealed safely. The product of all this labor doesn’t taste a bit like storebought jam. It is less sweet, and one can taste the muscadines, not just sugar. Our son, the culinary genius, enjoys the jam with brie on water crackers. Yum!