Monday, September 20, 2010

Stolen Grape Jelly

I'm sure this happens to everyone.  You're sitting in your front yard with your neighbors.  The kids are playing.  The parents are enjoying a few beers or cocktails.  Everyone's having a great time.  Then somebody brings up the neighbor across the alley.  Can you believe he's got that beautiful grape vine with those gorgeously ripe purple grapes just hanging on that giant pergola, and he's not doing anything with them?  What a shame!  What a food sin!

Let's go steal some!  Another neighbor chimes in.  Come on.  We'll go together.  It's dark out.  I don't even think he's home.

All of a sudden, there you are committing a crime with a neighbor and a few minor children (and one of said children's little shopping carts to carry the grapes home in).

In the middle of our 'foraging' another neighbor pulls into the alley.  Oh no!  We're busted!  We admit to our crime.  This neighbor informs us that it's probably ok.  The grape vine owner has told them in the past it was ok to take his grapes because he had no plans for them.  Well...that actually sucks a little of the fun out.

We ended up with about 5 pounds of grapes.  And you couldn't even tell we stole any.  We just grabbed what we could reach, so all of the grapes hanging from the top of the pergola were untouched.

The following day, I began teaching my 9 year old neighbor, Kaytlin how to make stolen grape jelly.  I've got to spread the love of canning somehow, right?  I showed her how to wash them and pick off the over-ripe ones.  Then I showed her how to squish them in a big pot and bring them to a boil.  I made my makeshift 'jelly bag contraption' which was cheese cloth, binder clips, and a bowl.  I told her how we had to let the juice drip out and then refridgerate it for a day.

On day 2, I had Kaytlin make the jelly.  She washed the jars.  She boiled the grape juice and pectin, and added the sugar.  She stirred and stirred until it felt a little bit thicker as she stirred.  She then filled the jars, put the lids on, and processed them for 10 minutes.  And learned the joy of the 'ping' as the jars were removed from the canner.  I brought a hot jar over to her house so she could admire it on her counter for a day before trying it.

On day 3, we distributed the stolen grape jelly to the accomplices, witnesses, and victim.  We admitted our crime to the victim, who laughed, and thanked us for returning his grapes.  He then told us to help ourselves to as many grapes as we wanted.

On day 4, there was a ladder underneath the pergola.  An invitation?


  1. haha! I love it! One of our neighbors has a large berry patch in their backyard. They had a rough year this year, so didn't do anything with them. My other neighbor and I watched the berry patch go crazy this summer, dreaming of all the things we could make with the different berries. The next day, said neighbor shows up at my door with 5 bowls FULL of berries and said "make something good". She had done the same thing (down to the kids shopping cart)! We took over a pie and a couple jars of jelly to the neighbor with the berry patch, who told us we could take all the berries we wanted, as long as we brought him some of the goodies!

  2. I love that story! Especially the ladder part. I would have been way to timid to go over there without asking first, but you had a great neighbor, so you lucked out.

  3. Being one of the neighbors, this is ONE TRUE STORY!! Our Kaytlin loved every minute of it and even said, "mom, this is better than SMUCKERS jelly!"

  4. Love the story. There is something so exciting about homemade jelly. So much better than store bought and even better with the great story that goes along with it.


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