Casual Canning

Alright, so I’m trying out the casual canning thing, putting to use those just-in-case lids. Last night I spent about two and a half hours making two canners of grape juice–14 quart jars. Grape juice should be put into larger jars, but I’m working with what’s kicking around the basement, and we can dilute it later. This necessary canning was put into motion by Nina’s spray-free local grape offer, and her suggestion that canning grape juice is particularly easy (which it is, in the realm of things canned). You wash the grapes, scald the jars, drop a cup or so of washed grapes into said jars, add a bit of sugar (1/3 cup, in my case; I would have preferred to go sugar-free, but couldn’t find a google or Ball Book answer on whether the sugar brings important preservative qualities to the mix). Pour boiling water over grapes and sugar, leave 1/4 inch space, screw on lids, process for 10 minutes. Repeat. Till jars run out or weariness overtakes you. It was the latter last night. I couldn’t believe how many grapes were still left by midnight.

Woke this morning, having dreamed of jars and grapes all night, resolved to fill the rest of the quart jars in the basement; but even after achieving this, the grape piles had scarcely abated. So I looked up some grape jelly recipes; I’ve got loads of half-pint jam jars. It looks easy … Take three-and-a-half pounds of grapes, wash, remove stems, toss into pot with 1/2 cup water, crush, simmer for 10 minutes, strain out juice. That’s how far I’ve gotten this morning. My Ball Book recipe calls for clarifying the juice over a 24-hour period, but I’m skipping that step. Next up, I’m going to boil the juice (about 4 cups) with 3 cups of sugar (!!!) till it gels, then pour into the hot, sterilized jars, and process for 5 minutes. Makes about 4 jars, apparently. But how will I know when it gels?

Ah, when it “sheets” off the spoon. All is made clear.

Dubious gelling intelligence aside, when this stage of the project is complete, at least I’ll have cleared the counter and fridge of grapes. And anything with that much sugar will appeal to small children regardless of texture. And the grape juice jars look particularly pretty, all jeweled fruit and rich-coloured juice. But I still have the Saturday chores to get to … the vacuuming, the bathrooms, the general pick-up, the odds and ends Kevin wants a chance to get to. Nothing pressing, however.

Except maybe a cup of coffee. Yes, be it resolved: while the jam gels, and the baby naps, and Kevin and the kids “clean” the basement, Carrie shall enjoy a cup of coffee.

I must also report that canning definitely feels more casual this second time around. I’ve got the tools, I know the timeframe. I’m realizing it would have been almost as easy to have canned my homemade ketchup and saved some room in the freezer. One person could can a heck of a lot just by setting aside two to three hours every evening during the peak harvest season. I’m not saying it would be fun or anything, and let’s not bother to calculate the time-cost, but a lot could get stuck into jars quite efficiently during those 2-3 hours … if one had the inclination and the fortitude and one’s children were not early-risers and one didn’t have a baby waking to nurse all night long. I’m a night owl anyway, so I foresee this as a future occupation. Late-night canning.

I Just Want to Lie on the Couch and Read a Good Book


  1. katie

    oh, carrie, i’m impressed with how industrious you are!

  2. Nathalie

    I made grape jelly one year, and saskatoon jelly another. The saskatoon jelly took about two months to set. I don’t know what it means. I was convinced I had failed, left the jars on the shelf (I was going to use the ‘syrup’ to make drinks by diluting in water), and when I went down to get something else later, found that they had set. I used pectin, though…

    I hope your grape endeavours taste good!


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