Photo by Kay Rentschler for ansonmills.com
Scuppernongs are the South's version of a traditional grape. They're sweet and juicy with a tough-skinned exterior, and in the southeastern U.S., they find their way into everything from wine to cake. This recipe from Anson Mills in Columbia, South Carolina, lets the grapes shine in a simple and sweet jelly. Add a spoonful to a biscuit, and you'll have your own little heavenly piece of the South.
For this recipe you will need a heavy, non-reactive 2-quart saucepan, a conical sieve and cheesecloth, a jelly bag, or a tamis, a whisk, a large mixing bowl, and a clean, dry 12-ounce jar.
3 lbs. ripe Scuppernong grapes, washed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. powdered pectin
1. Pull the grapes from their stalks, discarding any that are obviously bruised or damaged, and transfer them to a heavy, non-reactive 2-quart saucepan. Squeeze the grapes through your fingers, slipping their skins off. Mash the pulp slightly with a fork or potato masher. Set the pan on the stove over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grape juices flow and begin to simmer, about 10 minutes. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
2. Set a conical sieve lined with damp cheesecloth, a jelly bag or a tamis over a large mixing bowl and pour the grapes and juices through. Allow the juice to drip into the bowl without pressing on them (which can make the juice cloudy), about an hour.
3. When the pulp and skins lining the cheesecloth, jelly bag or tamis look dry and no more juice drips, discard the pulp and skins and pour the juice (there should be 1 1/2 cups) into a 2-cup glass measure. Cover and refrigerate the juice until it is cold.
4. Mix the sugar and pectin together in a small bowl and set it aside. Turn the chilled grape juice back into the (clean) saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Pour the sugar mixture into the grape juice and whisk vigorously. Return the juice to a simmer and simmer briskly for 2 or 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove the saucepan from the heat and taste for sweetness, adding more sugar it suits you. Pour the jelly into a clean, dry 12-ounce wide-mouth jar. Cool until tepid, cover and refrigerate. Keeps refrigerated for several weeks.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Kay Rentschler for ansonmills.com