More Than Picking Grapes-Canning Jelly with Mama: A story and a tutorial Part 1

When I was growing up mama did it all. She got up before light and fixed daddy’s lunch before he headed to the sawmill. Mama then got us four girls up and ready to head to the fields. When she wasn’t in the field she was in the garden or in the kitchen canning something from the garden. I didn’t think it was fair that after we finished working in the tobacco field we had to work in the garden!

Needless to say- learning to can when I was younger was very low on my list of priorities. The years passed and my priorities have changed. In the blink of an eye I am without my daddy and looking at my mama and really needing to spend more quality time with her. I wanted to learn all she had to teach and canning was at the top of my summer list. When I heard Pinehaven Vineyard had some wine grapes for sale I asked mama to teach me to make jelly. Kelly, my youngest sister, already had this down pat- thanks to mama. Now, it was my turn. Here we go!

Step #1- Grab your 5-gallon bucket and head to the field. Kevin Trent, co-owner of Pinehaven Vineyard had to show us which grapes were good to pick and which were too far gone. My nephew, Austin Bryant joined us there to pick for his mama (sweet). In the dew of the morning, the sun shinning and the bees buzzing harmlessly around us we began to fill our buckets. How lucky am I? Beautiful day, priceless moments.

Picking Traminette grapes at Pinehaven Vineyard with mama and Austin.

Step #2- Bring those babies home!

Traminette wine grapes ready to go!

Sep#3- Gotta get those grapes off the stem and we didn’t have a tool for that- only our fingers. Lawd have mercy- it took forever!

“Plucking” the grapes off the stem.

Mama “plucking” her grapes off the stem.

Step #4- Mama said we had to now wash them 3 times! “Three times?” I whined. So, I did and boy am I glad I did! Yuck!!
Nasty, dirty grape water!

I also found a june bug!! Yes, mama I will wash them 3 times!!

Step 5- Time to sqeeze the juice from the grapes. A automatic tool would have been nice! Nope- just some strainers, cheesecloth, and elbow grease. We put the grapes in mamas “jelly pan” to soften the grapes. When mama thought they were soft enough to press we took them off the heat and began pressing the juice out and then straining it a second time through some cheesecloth.

Boiling the grapes to soften.

Pressing the juice from the grapes.

More pressing

Straining through cheesecloth.

Step #6- We poured the juice into jugs and put them in the fridge. We called it a night. Wow, the next time someone gives you home canned goods please appreciate the time and effort that is put into this gift!

Ready to make jelly!

Next post:
Day 2- Actual Jelly processing!

Author: Linda Hamlett Childress

Growing up on a tobacco farm in the 70’s gave me a strong work ethic that I sometimes resent! My list of things I’ve learned and done is long (farming; dentistry; makeup; crafting; sewing; gardening; writing; painting) and it’s time to share with you. Join me on my blogging adventures!!

2 thoughts on “More Than Picking Grapes-Canning Jelly with Mama: A story and a tutorial Part 1”

  1. This is wonderful!!! I wish my Mama was still here to teach me!! You and I were in the same boat! Thank you for sharing your memories!

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