Concord Grape Walnut Conserve

From Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques For Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods by Eugenia Bone

Conserves, which combine fruit and nuts, are traditionally served as a condiment with a meal or in desserts. This converge, made with the foxy-tasting Concord grape, is not overly sweet and marries very well with chocolate and pastry of all sorts. It’s also good served on a cheese platter. This recipe is adapted from So Easy to Preserve from the University of Georgia Cooperative extension. Grapes and oranges are both high in acidity, and since spoilers cannot thrive in the moisture less environment of dried nuts, this product is safe for water bath processing. The conserve keeps for up to a year.

Makes 6 half-pints

8 cups stemmed concord grapes (about 4 pounds), preferably seedless

6 cups sugar

Six 2-inch strips orange zest

2 cups walnuts, semicrushed

Place the grapes, sugar, and ½ cup of water in a heavy pot over medium heat. Mash the grapes with a potato masher as they heat up. Stir frequently to ensure the sugar dissolves without burning. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes, until the grapes are tender; remove them from the heat. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, push the grapes through a food mill to separate out the skins and seeds. You will have a thick juice. Return to the pot. Add the orange zest and boil gently for 15-20 minutes over medium heat, until the mixture thickens. Keep an eye on it: the mixture can foam up and spill over the edge of the pot. Add the walnuts and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

Have ready 6 scalded half-pint jars and their bands. (To scald, simply dip the jars in boiling water. You don’t need to sterilize the jars, as you will be processing them for over 10 minutes.) Simmer new lids in a small pan of hot water to soften the rubberized flange. Pour the conserve into the jars leaving ½ to ¾ inch of headspace; wipe the rims, set on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Place the jars in a big pot with a rack in the bottom and add enough water to cover the jars by 3 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then boil the jars for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, allow the jars to rest in the water for 5 minutes or so, and then remove. Allow the jars to cool, untouched for 4 to 6 hours. Right away you will hear the popping seal of the vacuum seal as the jars cool down. If the walnuts are floating when you remove them from the water bath, it’s okay. Just cool the jars upside down.

Check the seals. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Refrigerate after opening.

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