Spiced Thomcord Grape Jelly

Thomcords are a seedless grape, a hybrid cross between the Concord and Thompson seedless. They were developed in California by the agricultural research services division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and can be found seasonally. Try your Farmer’s Market in late July and August. The Thomcord is not restricted so if you know someone that has a vine, you can propagate a cutting and grow your own. Or look for plants at your local nursery or through mail order (try Stark Bros.)

5-6 lbs Thomcord grapes – enough to make 5 1/2 cups of juice

2 cups water

1 box Sure-Jell pectin (I use low sugar)

3 1/2 cups sugar

Juice of one lemon

2 TBSP good quality balsamic vinegar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp sea salt or kosher salt (or 1/8 tsp table salt)

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 tsp butter

Prepare your juice. Since Thomcords are seedless you don’t need to go through all the trouble you do with Concords. I wash mine, then pick them off the stem and squeese the grape insides into a 6-8 quart non-reactive pot, then toss the skin in after. After you’ve picked and squeezed all the grapes, add two cups of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 min. occasionally squishing the grape mixture with a potato masher. After 10 min. let cool. Then strain. I put a colander over a bowl and pour it in (the skins go to the worm bin) then I pour the bowl through a sieve to get the smaller bits. You can do the cheesecloth thing if you want.

Measure 5 1/2 cups of grape juice into a non-reactive pot. If you’re short you can add some water. Turn on the heat. Stir in juice from one lemon, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt and pepper to the pot. Mix one box of pectin with 1/2 cup of sugar and gradually add to the pot, stirring as you do so. Bring the pot to a boil. After it has reached a full boil add the remaining 3 cups of sugar. Bring back to a full rolling boil, stirring as you go. When it remains boiling as you’re stirring, boil for one min. Remove from heat.

You’re now ready to put it in jars. Follow canning directions for your altitude. I bring my glass and lids just to a boil and let them sit in the hot water as I’m making the jelly. Then when I take the jelly off the heat, I remove the jars from the bath, fill, screw on lids and am ready to process.  I use an 8 quart pressure cooker with a regular lid and a rack on the bottom. At my altitude jelly is 5 min. at a boil. Your mileage may vary so check your own local directions.

Don’t use this for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Plain old grape jelly is fine for those. This wonderful spice jelly is better for a nice toasted English muffin with a little butter or to even make little tarts with a dollop of whipped cream.

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