Preserves: WIld Grape Jelly

Preserves: WIld Grape Jelly
We have a lot of wild grapes growing on our property. But every year we miss our chance to harvest them! So this year I made sure we gathered one bucket full so I could try making Wild Grape Jelly. I have to say it was easy (but messy!) and it tastes amazing.

But please be sure you are picking wild grapes! There is a similar poisonous plant . If you are not sure of the difference see this website for an image of the edible grape. One thing to check is the seed - edible wild grapes have a round seed but the poisonous look-a-like has a crescent shaped seed. The leaves are quite different too, with the poisonous plant having smooth edged leaves while the edible grape vine has more jagged edges.

Poisonous Plant Leaf
Edible Wild Grape Plant
The time-consuming part of our jelly making was hubby's obsessive washing of those grapes. He flushed out tiny spiders and a couple of snails, then washed the grapes thoroughly. We didn't bother removing the stems, but hubby picked through carefully and removed any green grapes or ones he didn't like the look of.

We ended up with about 17 lbs of washed grapes. Tben it was my turn. 

I looked up several online recipes and it seemed that you need 3 cups of water for every 3 lb. of grapes. So after I put the grapes in my big stock pot, I added 15 cups of cold water. I didn't crush the grapes at all, even though the recipes I looked at said to crush them before starting to boil them. But heck, those same recipes said to remove the stems! Which I didn't do either. 

After bringing the grapes and water to a boil, I let the pot simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then hubby took our potato masher and mashed them up a bit. 

The recipes I looked at said to let the mashed grapes drip through cheesecloth or a jelly strainer overnight. I didn't want to wait so I took my huge fine-mesh colander, put it over a clean bowl in the sink and dumped the grape mash in, a bit at a time. Word of warning - this is messy and grape juice stains. We covered the taps and counter tops with paper towels and hubby started dumping and crushing. We used my heavy grill press that I use when I make my special grilled sandwiches to push the mash down into the colander and get the juices running free.

Washing the grapes
This method worked really well and we soon had 17 cups of beautiful purple grape juice to make jelly, and a huge pile of grape seeds, stems and skins for our pot-belly pigs to enjoy.

I poured 15 cups of the grape juice back into my stock pot, and added 23 cups of white sugar. Every recipe I saw said the ration was 3 cups of grape juice + 4 1/2 cups of sugar. But I threw in a little extra because our grapes this year were very tart. After adding the sugar, I brought the mixture to a rapid boil and let it boil for one minute. 

Then I added 5 boxes of pectin. I only had 3 boxes of powdered pectin and two containers of liquid pectin so I used them all. I had no clue if it mattered that I mixed powder and liquid but it worked. Afer adding the pectin and stirring it very well, I brought the mixture to  a rapid boil again and boiled it for 2 minutes. I kept stirring the whole time. Then with a metal spoon I scraped off as much of the froth as i could. 

Boiling the grapes and stems with water
Then it was time to pour the grape juice into sterilized mason jars. To sterilize your jars just pop them in a 275' oven for 10 minutes. Put them on a baking tray, open mouth up. 

Leave about 1/8" air space at the top of every jar when you fill them. Then wipe the rims of each jar down with a damp cloth and seal with lids that you have boiled in water for 10 minutes. 

Put the jars in a hot water bath in your canning kettle and leave them to boil for 10 minutes. Take them out and let them cool. You should hear a loud pop as each lid seals properly. Before labelling and storing them make sure each jar is sealed by pushing down on the lids. If the lid moves, the jar is not sealed and must be used immediately or discarded.

Straining the grape mash
Hubby is pushing the grape mash to get the juices out
Lots of seeds and stems for our pigs!
Measure out the juice in 3 cup lots. You add 1 package of Pectin and 4 1/2 cups of sugar for every 3 cups of juice
Pectin and sugar
Jelly has boiled and it's time to scrape the froth off the top
This is the froth you don't want in your jelly
 Filling the sterilized jars

Hot water bath

Jars are cooling

Enjoy your beautiful purple jelly on a crumpet or piece of toast or even on vanilla ice cream as a special treat.


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