How to Make Grape Jelly

01Sep12

Most of my preserving posts are likely not too helpful if any of my readers are just getting in to canning since I tend to just link to other peoples’ recipes and not talk too much about how I do it. But I thought I’d give you an idea of how I get things done, particularly when I don’t have all the supplies that might be necessary for making something such as jelly.

The first step in making grape jelly is acquiring grapes. I got mine through Palatine again, with 6L of these Muscat grapes and 6L of a seedless red grape. The Muscats are a bit sweeter but have seeds, which means they are a good candidate for jelly! The second step after you have acquired your grapes is to wash them, as can be seen here in photo 1.

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Photo 1. Wash the grapes.

Put all the grapes into a big pot and smash ’em up while bring ’em to a boil.

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Photo 2. Smash the grapes.

The next step in most recipes is to use a jelly strainer or cheesecloth. I have no jelly strainer, and didn’t know where to set up the cheesecloth… However, we do have a hanging basket over our sink, so I went with the set-up seen in Photo 3.

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Photo 3. Hemp cloth lines the hanging basket

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Photo 4. Strainer set-up from the top.

All of the boiled grapes went through the strainer – some recipes say not to press the grapes through, but because hemp is finer than cheesecloth I pushed as much juice through as I could.

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Photo 5. Final product. 9 cups of juice on the left, big pile of skins and seeds for the compost.

Concord grapes need to be left overnight to let the tartrates settle – Muscat grapes I think are sweeter, but as I started the process late in the evening, I let the juice settle overnight in the fridge. By the morning there was a substantial amount of sediment at the bottom of the measuring glass, and the 6L of grapes gave me just over 8 cups of juice.

The next morning I got my jars ready – washed, sterilized in the boiling canning pot and kept warm in the sink.

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Photo 6. All the jars. Empty!

I didn’t get a picture of the steps in between the empty jars and the full jars, but here’s what happened: I use Pomona’s Universal pectin, which is for low sugar recipes. If you like the idea of low-sugar jellies and jams, be sure to get some of this stuff. The recipe called for 4 cups of juice, some lemon or lime juice, and the required amount of pectin and calcium water, which comes with the package. I had double the amount of juice, so I doubled the rest of the ingredients, of course. And I used maple syrup instead of the sugar or honey that the recipe called for. The calcium water goes in the juice and the pectin goes in the syrup, and once the juice is boiling you add the pectin/sugar, stir for two minutes, return to a boil and then remove from the heat and fill up the jars! I forget how long the jars needed to be boiled for, but the package says! (In my pregnant state I’m in no mood to get up and check the package, hence why I’m being a bit vague with this set of instructions).

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Photo 7. All of the jars. Full!

My 6L of grapes gave me 8 half pints and 2 quarter pints for the canner, plus another half-full half pint for the fridge.

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Photo 8. Delicious jelly!

And that’s how you make jelly!

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