So my grandmother passed away in November. It still hurts to breathe some days- but I do it anyway.
When we cleaned out her house, I collected a few sentimental items mostly related to cooking because she loved to cook and I sincerely believe that I inherited that from her. Many of my favorite childhood memories include her and (me) in the kitchen or have food attached to them somehow.
As mentioned in previous posts, we found several quarts of frozen muscadines in her freezer and I brought them home to my freezer. I knew when I found them she’d been saving them to make more of that yummy jelly and probably give it away at Christmas to all of her family as she’d done many times over the years- she just didn’t get to do that this year.
I loved her muscadine jelly. She cooked countless batches of biscuits through the years and we ate around her kitchen table having many wonderful conversations during those muscadine jelly laden biscuit feasts.
So I’ve been saving them in my freezer. For months. Until I was ready to face the rush of emotions and memories that would come with preparing her jelly.
This week my freezer door was left open by one of the kids and everything defrosted. So I spent two days cooking meats and various things to re-freeze and eat later.
My heart sank and I remembered the muscadines.
Now I was frozen. Terrified at the thought of losing them. Paralyzed by the fear that I would not make this jelly right and this last little piece of her loving intention would be lost.
But I did it anyway.
I started with 6 quarts of whole muscadines and found the biggest stew pot I owned. I had to make two batches so I split them 3 and 3… added two cups of water and two cups of sugar then let them simmer slowly for a couple of hours. Next, I strained off the juice and set it aside. Then I took a ladle full of muscadines at a time and squished them with the back of a spoon through a fine wire strainer and discarded the hulls and seeds after getting as much pulp and juice out of them as I could. After that, I got my package of sure-jell and read the “How to cook jam” instructions about 4 times. No kidding. It wasn’t that difficult, I was just that scared of messing it up. I followed the directions on the sure-jell (yellow-box) for grape jam because muscadines were not listed on the fruit chart and prayed. A lot.
By the time I finished,
I was literally shaking from holding back the emotion and fear of failing.
But with each little jar lid that popped into place as it sealed, a piece of my broken heart healed a tiny bit. Maybe just maybe I did it right after all…
So I am standing here now, looking at beautiful crimson jars of muscadine jelly not quite translucent in the sunlight that’s streaming through my kitchen window. And I’m smiling and I know that she is too. Most of these jars I’m giving to my family for Christmas in her memory and with my love.
If you’d like to download a digital or printable version of our recipe cards just follow the link HERE.
** You must enter an email address to enter the gallery, however, our system only logs you as a visitor and does not retain any email information.