Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hot and Sweet

Your blogger decided to get off the couch last weekend and putz around the kitchen. The end results were a decent hot sauce and a favorite jam that I haven't made for a few years.

The hot sauce came from the Boog Powell recipe I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. It's a pretty straight forward sauce - peppers, garlic, vinegar, salt and water. The pungent aroma released by the cooking filled the house, much to the chagrin of the Remarkable Marcy who was down and out Saturday with a stomach ailment.

The result was a flavorful, not overpoweringly hot sauce that tastes great dribbled over meats, eggs and just about anything else.

While the hot sauce was brewing, I started preparing some Concord grapes for jam.

I first made this recipe back in the early 1990s when we lived in Chicago. Our neighbors, Jorge and Migali, had a grape arbor that abutted the fence between our houses. In late summer and early autumn, the vines would be full and we were invited to take as many grapes as we wanted. So we did, and I became a jam man.

The jam recipe I used came from Carole Hupping's Rodale book, "Stocking Up III," a great resource for preserving foods of all sorts. It's a simple formula that makes a great jam.

Concord Grape Jam

3 pounds Concord grapes
1 1/2 cups mild-flavored honey

Wash grapes and place in large stainless steel of enamel saucepan. Crush them with a potato masher or a wooden spoon,, picking out whatever stems are easily extracted. When a little juice is released, cook grapes at a gentle boil until the center of the grape becomes tender enough to squash with a spoon. The point is reached about 10 minutes after the grapes come to a boil. Using a rubber spatula, force the grapes through a sieve to strain out the seeds. Press hard to extract all the pulp.

Return the strained pulp to the saucepan. Quickly bring to a boil and stir in honey. Stir frequently, but slowly, scraping all parts of the bottom of the pot carefully. Keep the temperature as high as possible, regulating the heat so that the grapes do not splatter wildly but boil vigorously. After about 10 minutes you should not be able to stir down the boil. Begin testing for the gelling point. The jelly will darken slightly and begin to feel thicker as stirred. You can lower the heat slightly as the grapes thicken. The jam should reach the gelling point 15 to 20 minutes after it begins to boil. Ladle it into hot, scalded half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace, and seal. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.
Yield: 4 half pints.

To wrap up, here's one of the hottest jam bands ever, The Grateful Dead with a 1989 performance in Buffalo of King Radio's (aka Norman Span) "Man Smart, Woman Smarter."



Erika W. said...

Homemade hot sauce is very intriguing to me. Do you need to process it at all to keep it for an extended period of time? It never occured to me to make my own hot sauce.

sullicom said...

I think it's got a limited shelf life. The problem is that it's too hot to eat a lot at a time or use it meal after meal. But it's good to share with friends, so keep a little, give a little.