Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Grape Jelly

Ah, grape jelly.  To me, nothing goes better with peanut butter, than grape jelly.  It's so smooth.  There's no chunks, no seeds.  It's one of my favorites.

I had no intentions of making grape jelly this year.  To be honest, I had no interest in jelly because it sounded like a lot of work to get the juice out, and I wasn't too excited about it being a 2 day process.  Well, after I was offered free grapes from my aunt (the master gardener I mentioned in a previous post), I knew I had to make some grape jelly.

I did some googling about how to make grape jelly.  I thought I'd give a no pectin version a try.  I did refer to Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry.  Here's the process I went through on my grape jelly experiment.

I went to my aunt's house and picked about 7 1/2 pounds of grapes.  I washed them and picked off the overripe grapes.  This was a long process, and I ended up doing it in 2 batches due to my lack of patience.

I crushed the grapes with a potato masher. 
I thought that I'd give a no pectin added version a try.  Because I didn't have enough under ripe grapes, I sliced up an apple and added it to the pot.  I ended up cooking the grapes and apples for about 15 minutes.
When it was done cooking, I put the grape/apple mixture into my homemade jelly bag contraption.  I can't take credit for this idea.  I saw it on another blog (I can't remember which one, or I'd link it).  I took 2 layers of dampened cheesecloth and used binder clips to attach it to a bowl.  I let the apple/grape juice strain for about an hour.  The trick here is to let gravity to the work.  Don't squeeze the juice through, or you'll end up with cloudy jelly.
I ended up with about 9 cups of grape juice.  I had stored the processed juice in the fridge for 24-ish hours.  As it sat, it developed crystals on the container.  After some good ol' Google research, I learned that they are tartrates.  They aren't harmful and aren't supposed to affect the taste. 
I poured 1/2 of the juice into a pot.  I slowly brought it up to boiling and added 3 cups of sugar.  I kept waiting for it to thicken, but it just wasn't happening.  I thought maybe I just didn't notice.  So, I did the plate test, but it definitely wasn't ready.  I cooked it for about 2 more minutes, and did the plate test again.  Fail.  Hmmm...Now what?  I went to the cabinet and grabbed a package of No Sugar Added Pectin.  I mixed it in, and did the plate test again.  This time it worked.  Yay!  I processed them for 10 minutes in the waterbath canner.
On the second batch (remember, I had 9 cups, and you aren't supposed to double a jelly recipe because it probably won't set properly), I didn't even try to not use pectin.  I followed the directions on the pectin insert.  It went more smoothly.  The first batch took about 3 days to fully set.  The second batch was set within 24 hours.
Another kid tested recipe!  Another success!

This post is linked to Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.
This post is linked to Grow Your Own #45 hosted by Girlichef.


  1. I found your site through A Latte With Ott,A's canning week and I love it!

    I've tagged you

  2. Yay!!! I'm so happy you submitted this to GYO this month...such an awesome, informative post...I love it! I'm definitely saving it for my grape harvest next year...this years is long gone, LOL! =)

  3. Love homemade grape jelly, the color in yours is beautiful. And it looks like your little guy approved! Thanks for joining us for Grow Your Own.

  4. That looks really good, and like a lot of work! I imagine it tastes like no other jelly I've had, tho. Clearly worth the effort given the happy faced picture at the end!

    I made strawberry and raspberry jam during my university years (yeah, we were quite the crowd, lots of food adventures and dinner parties), but I remember the process for jam being less complex (understandably since it's not jelly).


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