The other day I was at the orchard around the block and couldn't resist this little quart of Niagara grapes. Niagara grapes are a sweet native grape, of the species Vitus labrusca and you can read more about them here. They always remind me of those Japanese Muscat Kasugai gummies. My dream is to one day recreate them so I can eat them all the time. This morning I got that much closer.
The grapes smelled heavenly but the diesel-y note in them was sort of strong. They were also small and the pits in them large and many, so I decided I'd do a quick jelly. I cooked them for ten minutes and mashed them gently so the seeds would release from the flesh. Then I put them in a sieve to drain over night. The juice was a weird cloudy green. Didn't look promising. I had about a cup. I added a cup of sugar and put it on to boil, in a small pot with no thermometer. I was experimenting. It seemed the jelling point was reached very quickly because it foamed up right away. I'm known to be impatient and jump the gun on the jelling point. But by about fifteen minutes, I knew I had to pull it off the heat. I poured the thick syrup into a jar. By the time I got it onto my greek yogurt and topped it with crystallized ginger, it was the consistency of thick honey. Now that it's in the fridge it's pretty much the consistency of taffy. Not that I won't eat it! The diesel-y note is gone entirely and what's distilled in the sugar is that sweet, perfumed scent of fresh native grapes off the vine.