Oregon Grape Jelly
Oregon Grape may just be the most underused yet widely available foraging opportunity out there. Oregon Grape grows all over the northwest and beyond, it’s also an especially popular landscaping plant. There are nearly limitless opportunities to harvest this fruit and my guesstimate would be that about 99% of the fruit never is. A bit of a shame considering that all those antioxidants could be in your body fighting free-radicals. My kids and I gathered two pounds of Oregon Grape fruit from the Little Caesars parking lot near our home in a matter of minutes. The fruit is dark and rich (hence the antioxidants) but also fairly sour so it lends itself to jams, reduction sauces, and compotes. Great Lakes gelatin is the real deal and one of my favorite discoveries; it can be used to make jello, jam or jelly out of anything. I like to use three half pint canning jars which will leave a little space for freezing some of the jelly if desired. So, let’s make some Oregon Grape Jelly!
Oregon Grape Jelly
I lb Oregon Grape
2 cups + 1/3 cup water
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp Great lakes gelatin (red can)
3 half pint canning jars
Begin by placing the fruit in a bowl and filling with water to clean and float off the stems. They just need a quick rinse and it really doesn’t matter if you get every stem. Strain out the water. Next add the Oregon Grape and two cups water to a small pot. Bring pot to a simmer and reduce heat to maintain a very gentle simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and macerate with a potato masher or other utensil.
Next strain into a bowl through a regular size strainer. Push with the back of a spoon to get all the juice out you can. Add honey to the juice in bowl and mix well. The warm temperature should help remove the honey from the measuring cup. Next add lemon juice and stir.
Put 1/3 cup of cold water in another small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let it “bloom,” which means the gelatin will be absorbed into the water. Pour the water/gelatin mixture into the warm Oregon grape juice and whisk until completely dissolved. Once dissolved, pour into each jar, leaving about an inch at the top. Allow to cool on the counter before refrigerating for at least six hours to overnight. Jelly will thicken as it cools. Jars can be frozen after cooling as long as there is at least an inch of space at the top.
Natural gelatin provides minerals to supports bones and the lining of the stomach, good stuff! Great lakes Gelatin can be found in both green can (does not gel) and red can (does gel). This means that the red label can be used to make jello, jelly and jam and the green label can be added to smoothies, beverages, or anything for a nutrition boost. My pantry is now stalked with both.