I Got It Right: Wild Grape Jelly

After the main part of my summer job was over, I had a bit more time to pursue other interests. It was kind of weird working 9 to 5 and then getting real free time; I pretty much did not know what to do with myself.

I did make wild grape jelly, though. After discovering a jackpot of wild grapes growing near the creek, I had spent weeks picking them off and spitting the seeds out as I walked. Wild grapes are one part juice, three parts seed. It was fun, but I wanted something more out of the experience. After floating around a few ideas, grape jelly seemed like the most prudent. So I made it.

I picked a heaping ice cream pail full of grapes at first, which gave me about three cups of juice. If you pick your own, you might want to go with a couple pails full. Acutally, you will want to go with a couple of pails full. Late August through the late September is the best time to pick wild grapes. Perfect timing.

To get the juice out of the grapes and into a jelly, I put on some gloves and squished them into a pulp. Despite the gloves, my hands were still stained and burning after about ten minutes. Good thing I didn’t smash the grapes with my feet like I wanted to, yes? That would have been so romantic for about thirty seconds.



 

 

 

 

I found a neat website all about wild grapes to help with making the jelly. WildFoods suggests putting the pulp in a cheesecloth to get the rest of the juice out, but I hate dealing with cheesecloth to the point of avoiding recipes that include it. However, in this case, I was pretty committed by the time I read about the cheesecloth, so I decided to MacGyver a cheesecloth out of a really fine strainer. It worked pretty well; I just had to keep squishing the pulp into the strainer. WildFoods also cautions not to break the seeds in the grapes or boil the skins to get the juice. Keeps away the bitterness, so they say.

I’ve never canned anything in my life. It sounds intimidating and involves a lot of boiling water and hot glass. I can be kind of a sissy about getting burned. If you’re a-feared in a small way, here is the link to the USDA’s definitive jelly-canning guide. Who even knew the government published things like this?Additionally, Ball Jars has a pretty, simple website that is all about making it easy to can. They’re probably just trying to sell product by  making canning less intimidating, but I did enjoy the site. And! I didn’t fail! The jelly jelled! Up from the ashes of disaster grew the roses of success! (The ashes of disaster being, in this case, severe boredom.)

The flavor is so excellent; every other jelly I have tried seems watered down in comparison. P.S. I should have skimmed that foam off the top, I found out later. Ah well, it makes for a cool picture.

I am thinking that these will make lovely gifts, don’t you?

Go crazy,

L

Wild Grape Jelly

Adapted from Wildfoods.info

Take four cups of undiluted wild grape juice and mix in one package of Sure-Jell and bring it to a boil. Add five and a half cups of sugar all at once and stir constantly until it returns to a vigorous rolling boil. Let it boil briefly for a minute or two (still stirring) until it seems to want to foam up over the top. Then remove it from the heat, pour into sterilized jars, and seal in a boiling water bath for about five minutes.

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5 Responses to “I Got It Right: Wild Grape Jelly”


  1. 1 movita September 21, 2011 at 9:31 am

    You’ve got some really lovely photos here. Kinda makes me want to eat some grape jelly!!

  2. 2 Sam Sandilla Jr. September 21, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Who doesn’t like ole school jelly?

  3. 3 frugalfeeding September 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    What a great idea, I love making jelly. I just made loads from wild damsons. You should check it out. I’m mega jealous about your wild grapes though – what an incredible find. Lucky girl :P


  1. 1 Pipe Dream #70: To Be So Biased – French Bread « piping dreams Trackback on November 9, 2011 at 9:11 am
  2. 2 Pipe Dream #79: To Be Gellin’ – Crabapple Jelly « piping dreams Trackback on January 9, 2012 at 9:01 am

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