It’s Jelly Time

I’ve typically been enamored of rich, fruit-filled jams, held barely together by unctuous juice… However, I’ve recently been inspired by two sources to enter into the world of clear, pure jelly, and test my skills in that arena.

First, a couple of weeks ago, my sister, Christy, and lovely 15-month-old niece, Evie, came to visit. We spent a day in Napa, with visits courtesy of our dear friend Martin, of the Saint Helena Wine Center. He arranged a visit and private tour at Chase Family Vineyards, where we spent a couple of hours wandering around, tasting some fantastic zinfandel and cabs, and eating our picnic lunch. BTW–tested out a new recipe for plum balsamic rosemary jam, and will definitely make again–fantastic with triple cream brie and baguette!

After spending time with our tasting guide, I learned that they had finished the harvest for the year, and the remaining grapes were destined to rot on the vines. Saddened by that prospect, I asked for permission to harvest a bit for jam. She agreed, and I ended up with a large bag of grapes (and Evie ate her fill, too!). I washed, sorted and de-stemmed, but had to freeze the grapes for a better jam-making moment. It seems like that will be this weekend!

Second, I was talking with a co-worker this week who reminisced about mint jelly a neighbor used to make when she was growing up. The only mint jelly available in the stores these days is the artificially green kind that is destined for dry legs of lamb. I was inspired to try and re-create the subtle mint jelly that she remembered…after a visit to the Farmer’s Market today, I’m all set with mint and ready to give it a try!

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