You can't pick your neighbors, but you can pick your neighbor's fruit! A classic summer past-time - picking your own fruit. Whether it's a berry patch or an orchard, You-Pick farms are common around central Virginia. Though the season is mostly over for berries and stone fruit, apple picking season is just beginning!
Jack took a trip to Kipps Grape Orchard last week and picked 54 lbs of concord grapes! He made a small batch of grape jam available for purchase in the restaurant, and has shared the recipe below. As children go back to school, this is the perfect way to squeeze in that last little taste of summer.
If you have yet to visit any of these farms, check out the apple picking this fall, and be sure to put them on your list of activities for next summer!
You-Pick Orchards in Central Virginia:
- Kipps Grapes
- Yowell Farm
- Sunrise Gardens
- Liberty Mills Farm
- The Market at Grelen
- Graves Mountain
- Carter Mountain
Concord Grape Jam
Serves: 15 – 12 oz jars
My family seems to have started a tradition for Labor Day weekend. For the past few years, it has happened that the peak ripeness of the grapes at Kipps Orchard in Madison Virginia, fall on the long holiday weekend. Our 3 children alone picked 54 pounds this year. What better way to reward their toil than to make grape jelly. Our favorite pectin to use is Pomona’s Pectin, which comes with a packet of monocalcium phosphate powder. Don’t like the sound of that? Don’t worry, it is a food-grade mineral source used throughout the food world and also occurs in small quantities in many of the fruits and vegetables you will be canning. The powder, which replaces the need for much of the sugar in traditional recipes, also aids in the gelification process. Simply dissolve ½ teaspoon of calcium powder in ½ cup of water and reserve for recipe. The outcome is a healthier, fruitier preserve that avoids the teeth-clenching sweetness of those other jars.
15# Concord Grapes
3 ea Lemons, zest and juice
4 tbsp Calcium Water
4 cups Sugar
4 tbsp Pectin Powder
Pick grapes from the vine, wash and allow to drip dry. In a large pot combine grapes, lemon zest and juice, calcium water and half of the sugar.
Crush grapes with your hands allowing them to release their juices. Let stand for 15-20 minutes.
Mix remaining amount of sugar with pectin powder and reserve. This step will prevent the pectin from clumping when added to jelly.
Place pot with grapes on stove and turn heat to medium high. Stir frequently as grapes begin to simmer. Continue simmering for 20-30 minutes, while skimming foam from the top.
Add the pectin-sugar mixture and stir until dissolved. Continue to simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
To test consistency of jam, place a small bowl in the freezer. When cold, pour a spoonful of jam into the bowl and allow to cool.
When desired thickness is reached, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Follow proper canning procedures for water bath canning of high-acid foods.