More Than Picking Grapes- Canning with Mama part 2

Day 2-
Step #1-
Listen to your mama! Gather all your supplies first! Jars, Sure jell, lids, sugar, butter, pans. Put the jars in the dishwasher and rinse.

Gather all your ingredients and supplies.

“Don’t short cut, Linda” mama says. Measure correctly!

Mama preparing the jars.

Step 2- Continue to listen to your mama! We disagreed on what constituted a “rolling boil”. Explains why I had so many epic fails with my past canning! We followed the directions on the sure-gell package but reduced the amount of sugar by one cup. Myra, from Pinehaven Vineyard advised that wine grapes had more natural sugar than regular grapes. So, measure out the juice and add one box of sure gell (yellow box) and a tablespoon of butter. The butter, mama said “keeps the foam down”. Bring to a “rolling boil”! Lawd have mercy- a “rolling boil” is more than just a “simmer”!

Add your butter!


Butter added.

Rolling Boil!

Step 3- Add the sugar and bring to a “rolling boil” again- and time it! ONE minute!

Bringing it to a “rolling boil”.

Add sugar and bring to a “rolling boil” again for ONE minute.

Step 4- After one minute remove from heat and start filling your jars! Your jar lids should be in hot water by now to help with sealing. After filling your jars be sure and wipe off the excess jelly from jar tops. Mama says this is important to insure the jars seal. Place jars in a water bath and bring to a “rolling boil”- lawd, a “rolling boil” for about 15 minutes. This will help seal the jars. You will start hearing the jars popping as soon as you take them from the hot water.
Filling jars

Hot water bath- 15 minutes


All done! Let cool. As it cools it will begin to set up. Try not to disturb until the next day.


Mama and I ended up canning dozens of jars of Traminette jelly and giving many away already! This time spent with mama was useful and priceless. What a great day!

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!

Reviving my Grapevine Tobacco Wreath

Today I found myself spring cleaning a little (yes, I know it’s late summer). Where does all the dust come from? I think the tiny dust monsters come out at night and put it right back! I hate dust. In fact- when asked what I want for Christmas I always say, “If I can’t eat it, wear it, or sit on it- I don’t want it!” (family heirlooms excluded). Anyway, I took down my tobacco grapevine wreath and, whew (cough, sneeze) the dust! Must have been at least a year since it was dusted last (okay it has NEVER been dusted- it’s fragile!). Question to self was, “How do I clean this fragile wreath? Should I just take it to Goodwill”? NO!! I love this thing.

Mama, Cathy and I each bought one at the Campbell County Heritage festival one year. Mama has hers hanging on the back porch, slowly making its way to the Goodwill pile. Not sure where Cathy’s is- maybe Cathy gave me hers?? Kept her from taking it to the Goodwill! Regardless- I treasure it and want to SAVE it, but how? Here’s what I did:

#1- Remove from wall and take to a well ventilated area. The dust particles can kill! I then took a soft, slightly damp paintbrush and gently began brushing into all the nooks and crannies. (did I see a spider?)

Slightly wetted soft paintbrush.

#2- My Vidal Sassoon hair dryer was used to blow away any additional loose dust. (Cough, sneeze- note to self: use low setting on cool).

Who said Vidal Sassoon was just for hair?

#3- Well, its dust free but still looks faded and worn. Goodwill it? Nooooo! I took my can of Valspar Project Perfect Top Coat in gloss from Lowes and sprayed the grapevine and the dried tobacco leaves. Voila! Ta-da! Like new!! I let it dry a little and then put it back in its place of honor (to be cleaned again in another five years). We avoided the Goodwill pile!

Ta-da! Good as new and saved from the Goodwill box.