A personal diary about life in a country town, Bungendore NSW Australia

  Sunday 23 March 2003

We mixed some green with the purple/blue grapes and ...voilą! It made all this pretty grape jelly.   
The Birds and Bees

Have been eating our grapes.  Even with a bird net draped over them, the small birds have been pecking a neat puncture in each. I'll spare you the photo of the silvereye that I didn't notice had got caught up some time ago judging by the dried carcass. Silvereye's (Zosterops lateralis) are common garden birds along the east coast and we share them with New Zealand. They're welcome here because they're pretty and they eat codling moth on the apples and they love hairy aphids. I just don't want them to eat all my grapes! You can see the description here from the Slater's field guide.

I've been meaning to pick the grapes sequentially as they become ripe, but the occasional bunches I did harvest just sat there in the bowl on the table. No-one wanted to battle the pips in not so sweet blue grapes. The Thompson Seedless from the supermarket go in record time. So, when I decided it was time to pick them all, more than half were just shells, with dozens of bees crawling over them (and my hands) as I picked. The process: Birds peck and release the juice, bees lick it up. I get what's left.

There were some big bunches that were lower in the grass, left I presume, because they were more dangerous for small birds to eat, in a garden were there's always a neighbour's cat or two. There was still enough for some jelly, and I'm only a little sad at the tangled dried out body of the silvereye.   

Making grape jelly. Boil up the grapes till soft in a saucepan with lid, using just a cup of water. I then squashed the juice out in a bag made from a square of t-shirt (there used to be jelly bags for this purpose. That's another missing bit of my country past.) I left the juice sit overnight then strained it through muslin. Then you add one and a half cups of sugar per cup of juice, boil it up, add pectin ( I use Fowlers Jamsetta). Do a test drop on a cold plate to see it gel. Bottle while warm. Then test the jars when cold to find it's too runny and realise you didn't boil them enough. Empty the jars back in the pot, and add more Jamsetta and boil hard for another five minutes. Bottle again. Easy really. It tastes nicely tart despite all that sugar.
  Fred Harden ©2003 <thinktag> After a few days, these entries are added to the Archive Menu