Appalachia Appalachian Food Preserving/Canning

How To Make Grape Jelly

picking grapes in Appalachia

Our grape vines did very well this summer and its a good thing since there was no blackberries to make jelly with! A friend of Miss Cindy’s gifted us with the grapevines several years ago. They’ve only become real producers for us over the last two summers.

Grapes are so much easier to pick than blackberries and they’re even easier to turn into jelly, but I’ll sure be missing my blackberry jelly this winter. Even with the extra work blackberry is my favorite. The first step in making grape jelly is to pick the grapes. If you’re as lucky as I am you might have a pretty young lady to do that part for you.

When I’m picking grapes I always look around under the vines on the ground. You can often find freshly fallen grapes that only need to be picked up.

how to make grape jelly from fresh grapes

Next up is washing the grapes and de-stemming any that need it.

Once those steps are completed I wash the grapes a few times in cold water to make sure all the bugs, leaves, and grit are gone. Next I place the grapes in a large pot and add enough water to keep the grapes from scorching. I usually add water until I just begin to see it coming up between the grapes around the bottom edges.

I simmer my grapes for about 20 minutes to soften the skins.

I use my ricer to get the juice and pulp out of the grapes and then discard the skins and seeds. Grape seeds are so large that a simple colander or sieve works good for this step too.

You need 5 cups of grape juice to make one run of jelly. If you don’t have enough you could make a half a run, pop the juice into the freezer until you get more or add a little water or store bought grape fruit juice to make up the difference.

Grape Jelly

  • 5 cups grape juice
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 1 box pectin

Pour juice into a large sauce pot and stir in pectin. Cook over medium high heat and bring mixture to full rolling boil. Add sugar all at once and stir. When juice returns to a full rolling boil, boil for one minute.

Immediately ladle hot jelly into sterilized hot jars and seal. I turn my filled and tightly sealed jars upside down for about 5 minutes and then set them upright and cover them with a towel until they cool. Make sure each jar has sealed, then store until you’re ready to use. If a jar doesn’t seal, put it in the frig and eat it first.

What I just described is the open kettle method of canning jelly. If you read any cookbook or the instructions that come with pectin they will advise water-bathing the jelly for 5 minutes. Please do this if you’d feel more comfortable. I grew up with the open kettle method of canning and have been doing it myself for the last 20 years so I feel safe in processing mine in the old time way.



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  • Reply
    August 28, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I have concord grapes, but let me tell you they can’t compare with the flavor of jelly made from wild grapevines.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 28, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Tipper–Readers might want to consider using an old pillow case to strain the juice. They are plenty strong and you can exert a great deal of pressure by continued twisting. I think it’s easier than using a strainer, ricer, or colander. Also, you get nothing but juice.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    August 28, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    This brought back memories of the class I took with you at the Folk School. Great time and good jellies and other goodies!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 28, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    Not to seem like a know-it-all ner nothing but your jelly is probably safer to eat than jelly that has been jarred using the hot water bath method. Grape juice is mostly water. The boiling point is about 212°. Adding that much sugar to the solution raises the boiling temperature significantly. So when your mixture comes to a boil and you jar it, it is well above the 212° of the water bath. That means the water bath only serves to bring the jelly back down to the boiling point of water where some nasty little critters can survive.
    Besides that sugar is a natural preservative. Ever seen spoiled or rotten sugar? It might get full of ants or clump up or something like that but it won’t ever spoil. Your recipe is almost 66% sugar.
    Now if you need somebody to use as a guinea pig to test the safety of your jelly, I’m your man. If the first jar don’t get me, you can send another jar.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    We always had grape jelly growing up, also had several jars of blackberry to get us thru winter, I can’t keep the coons out of mine they’ll strip the vines in one or two nights.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Grape Jelly is my Favorite too, but Blackberry Jelly comes in a close second. I’ve been saving that 1/2 pint jar you sent by Chitter till Cold weather, but I may not make it. Blackberries didn’t do well for me this year either, but I’ve got enough for a couple of Cobblers.
    Those grapes I planted that Miss Cindy brought me when she lived at Black Mountain from her friend, never had a chance. My neighbor’s mules got out and made a bee line up the side of my garden, trampling over all the vines I planted. I was heart-broken! I had plans for building a long trellis for them to run on. …Ken

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    August 28, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Oh boy! Now this is something I might could do. Concord grapes grow all over the place up here in Michigan. They just run rampant – almost like kudzu! Often wondered how to try to make jelly from them. Did make strawberry this year. It came out strawberry/lemon because the strawberries weren’t very flavorful and the lemons were.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Good Morning Tipper- I just finished reading this morning’s rendering (re-making grape jelly). My grapes seem to be doing very well this summer also. Thanks for the idea of using a ricer. That never ever crossed my mind but what a great idea! I do a lot of ‘canning’ using the old time way also and I am a lot older than you ..LOL I have never had a problem but it is a choice we all have to make. Have a great ‘jelly making day! And, no, I have no pretty young ladies to help pick mine. However I do have a most thoughtful husband who always gives me a hand. Inez Jones

  • Reply
    August 28, 2017 at 8:53 am

    My grapes didn’t do very well this year. The few grapes the vines produced were quickly discovered by the deer that surely weighs 500 pounds after months of eating peaches, apples, pears and grapes. There is nothing as good as homemade grape jelly.

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    August 28, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Good timing. Making blueberry blackberry mix jelly today using fruit from last year. I froze a lot and don’t care for the full fruit after freezing except in mixed berry pie. We are making a low sugar version of your recipe, using reduced sugar pectin. First time trying this. We have a friend who never makes more than a couple of jars at a time, all with frozen berries.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 28, 2017 at 7:59 am

    I am with you, blackberry is my favorite . My first venture into jam making was with wild grapes from tge woods next to my jouse. They made the best jam

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 28, 2017 at 7:39 am

    I do open kettle too, Tip. It’s what I learned before I ever had a canning book that said to to water bath or pressure it. It has always worked for me so I’ve never felt the need to add an additional step.
    Concord grape jelly has always been my favorite, except sometimes when a get an especially good blackberry or crab apple jar given to me. Then for the moment, it’s my favorite!
    Canning, especially jam and jelly is so rewarding you get those wonderful flavors and you get the beautiful colors. I like to leave things on the counter a few days after canning just to enjoy the beauty of them!

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