Normally, you would not consider jelly a “health food,” but we’ve got something here that might just be the healthiest jelly in the world. And there are reasons to back up this claim.
Editor’s Note: the actual grape in the photo is most likely not a Fox Grape. The Fox Grape is not known in Minnesota, but we do have a River Grape and a Frost Grape. The problem in identifying these grapes is that both of those wild grapes have multiple seeds and can grow half an inch wide. The grape we’re using is wild, has just one seed, and is quite tiny. We are calling it a Fox Grape because it’s as close to the original as possible, except that we are told the Fox Grape has a “foxy” odor to it, which is similar to a skunk’s odor, but not as strong. Personally, I’ve never found a grape with that odor.
The fox grape is a wild grape. They might look large in the photo, but the ones we found are usually no wider than a quarter inch. If you talk to anyone who has studied nutrition, the wild fruits are much more charged with nutrition than the domesticated fruit. This has been demonstrated when nutritional scientists compared domestic strawberries and raspberries to their wild counterparts.
It is at this point where I must apologize for my not being able to give a reference to this claim, because I read about the comparison over twenty years ago in an article by James Duke, famous herbalist. Duke has since passed away, and his articles are no longer on the web.
Additionally, we used a raw or “turbinado” sugar. White sugar has just sweet and empty calories; raw sugar has some nutrition.
There’s a problem for those of us who are interested in exactly how much nutrition. You see, each website seems to have their own facts. Livestrong disagrees with the USDA, which disagrees with nutritionalvalue dot org.
So instead of listing out a specific number, we will list in order (of greatest amount to least) the nutritional factors in “raw” sugar as opposed to white sugar: potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, niacin, and manganese. You should note that these factors come from the mineral salt content of the raw sugar. [Ref1 Ref2 Ref3]
And it has a caramel flavor.
The fox grape’s closest domestic relative is the Concord grape, and again, we found conflicting figures regarding its nutritional content. But we do know this: though it doesn’t contain a large amount of vitamin C, its antioxidant value is very high, so you can consider the fox grape’s antioxidant value still a bit higher. [Ref]
Additionally we learned that the nutritional value of the Concord grape and the Seedless Concord grape are quite different. The seed version has more nutrition. But you could almost guess this because the horticulturists who bred the seedless grape were not breeding for greater nutrition, but for a lack of seeds. Thus they created a seedless version, but also a version with less nutrition.
So again, when looking at a particular fruit’s nutrition, you are free to assume that the “wild” version has more nutrition because no horticulturist has messed with it.
The Concord grape contains vitamin K, needed for blood clotting, yet at the same time Concord grapes decrease “platelet function,” which can lower risk of stroke or heart attack.
Some of you might be recalling the “French Parodox” at this point, and how wine has all these heart benefits. Well, that’s just ducky, because the actual fruit has more benefits than wine, but wine is just more fun to consume.
Concord grapes fight high blood pressure. Then there are the “seed” derivatives, such as pycnogenol. But when you eat the grapes, unless you eat the seed, you’re not getting any of that.
We made our jelly using a Finish steamer/juicer called a Mehu Maija (which pays for itself every time we use it). The act of steaming also releases pectin from the tiny branches. You see, we put the branches and the grape clusters right into the top part and nutrition from the branches even get into the mixture. If you steam long enough, some of the nutrition from the seeds gets into the mixture also. And the polyphenol and flavonoid content in this jam will accomplish everything you’ll find in literature concerning the Concord grape as far as cardiovascular health studies go. But there is more. [The steamer/juicer on the right is the cheapest one I could find for our readers. But don’t go too cheap. It has to be stainless steel or you are wasting your money. Just click the pic to visit our affiliate program’s store or go here: http://shrsl.com/186y2.]
Consumption of the Concord grape (hence a better response from the consumption of the fox grape) has a positive influence on “risk factors associated with cancer, diabetes, impaired immune responsiveness, age-associated cognitive declines, and neurodegenerative diseases.” [Ref]
So there you have it. This jelly might just be the healthiest jelly on the planet.
Wild Grapes (the juice)
The following are each per cup of grape juice:
1 teaspoon Calcium Water
¼ – ½ cup Turbinado Sugar
1½ – 2 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin Powder
Get your juice any way you want. Using the Juicer/Steamer above is the best and easiest way to do it. And allow me to repeat myself: it pays for itself with each use.
Then measure that juice out so you know how much of the ingredients above to add, and start boiling your bottles and tops.
You might want to do as we did. We used the lower of the two figures as far as the sugar and the pectin go. We calculated how much sugar we needed using the quarter cup per cup of juice figure, and then we cut that a bit. We’re not crazy about all that sugar, and we wanted the flavor of the grapes to shine through. Also, this particular pectin powder is a “low sugar” powder, in that it gels with a low sugar content. Many pectin products require much more sugar to gel. We are definitely not into that stuff.
Once you know how much sugar and pectin you need, pour the sugar into a bowl, add the pectin to it, and stir well. You see, if you were to add the pectin powder directly to the juice, it will congeal quickly, forming glops that you can’t do anything with. Mix it well into the sugar, add the calcium water directly to the juice, then stir in the sugar/pectin combination and heat to a rolling boil.
Note on Using Honey: Yes, you can use honey, but since we were selling ours at the local farmers market, using honey would have priced our jelly out of range of what customers will spend. Using the “raw” sugar doubled the cost of production as it was, and our jelly was still priced higher than that of other vendors.
Stir constantly and test by dripping some of the juice onto a dish. Let it sit for a bit, and then push it with your finger to see if it’s gelling. If it is, it’s time to fill your jars (that should be boiling by this time).
There will be foam. To get rid of the foam, we’re told to add a teaspoon of butter. Sorry, we like the foam.
Fill up your jars, tighten the lids, and soon you’ll hear them popping as the jelly cools down.
It’s the best tasting jelly you’ll ever have.
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