How to Make Wild Grape Jelly: Your Guide to a Delicious Homemade Spread

  • By: Linda Simpson
  • Date: November 13, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.

This month was really stressful.  We had a bunch of stuff going on that’s not really worth going into.

The only reason I bring it up is to say how it really is so nice when life is overly complicated and then you find an absolutely gigantic patch of wild grapes that have set the most beautiful, luscious, deep purple  clusters of fruit, and then you can be like:

HEY! Instead of stressing out about all this other stuff, I’m going to spend the afternoon picking grapes and making jelly.

If I want to blow off everything that I’m supposed to be doing and make jelly instead then DAMMIT I’m going to because I’m a grown woman and who can stop me SO THERE.


I still can’t believe that these grapes are wild.  Most of the ones I’ve seen in the past wouldn’t really set fruit in bunches; it would just be a few random grapes here and there on the vines.  

The main difference between wild and cultivated grapes are the size of the seeds.

Wild grapes’ skins slip off the same way concord grape skins do, but the seed inside is huge and there’s not much to the fruit. The flavor is intense, though, and perfect for making jelly.  

The color of the finished preserve is gorgeous and the taste is dark, tart and excellent.  (Actually, it really reminds me of the tiny, tart wild blackberries that grow in the exact same area earlier in the summer.) 

Wild grapes have lots of pectin on their own and are a good candidate for a no-added pectin jelly.  

The set on those jellies really is nicer than jellies with added commercial pectin, but you really need to add a lot of sugar to make the no pectin batches gel.  

I prefer adding low-sugar commercial pectin to the grape juice so that I can use less sugar and have a shorter cooking time (which often preserves the flavor of the fresh fruit a little better).  

I made some wild blackberry-plum jelly earlier this year without any added commercial pectin, and it’s good, but it’s just so sweet.

Wild Grape Jelly Recipe

Makes: 6 half-pint jars

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Cook Time: 1 hr. plus overnight

STEP ONE: Make the grape juice

First, make the grape juice.  Wash the grapes and remove them from the stems.  Put them in a large, nonreactive pot and add just enough water to cover them.  

Simmer the grapes for about half an hour.  Once they start softening up, mash them with a potato masher to release their juice.

After 30-45 minutes, pour them into a jelly bag to drain overnight. (Or, use cheesecloth.  or a clean pillowcase. 

I like this description of using a pillowcase instead of a proper jelly bag. I just slip mine over the top of a pot and tie off the excess fabric underneath the pot, if that makes any sense.)

I had 16 cups of grapes and cooked them in 8 cups of water, which ended up yielding about 5 cups of juice.

STEP TWO: Making the jelly


  • 5 c. prepared wild grape juice
  • 3 cups plus 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 box of sure-gel low sugar pectin

Prepare boiling water canner, jars, and lids.

Whisk together the pectin with 1/4 c. of sugar.  

In a large, nonreactive pot, whisk together the grape juice and the pectin/sugar mixture.  

Cook on high heat until the grape juice comes to a full, rolling boil.  

Stir in the rest of the sugar and bring the jelly back to a full boil.  Boil hard for 1 minute.

Ladle hot jelly into prepared jars leaving 1/4″ headspace.  

Wipe rims and attach lids, then process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude as necessary. 

This happens to be the first time I’ve tried out tattler lids… and I love them. They’re BPA-free and reusable, which is great.  

Throwing away all those metal lids always seems like a bummer, and really, I haven’t seen any Pinterest projects for repurposing them that actually look like anything work-making.

Another easy way to make Wild Grape Jelly:

Follow these simple steps:

Harvest grapes:

Wild grapes are ripe in the fall, so this is the best time to harvest them. Harvest the grapes when they are fully ripe, but not so ripe that they’re falling off the vine.

Cook the grapes:

Once you’ve harvested the grapes, put them in a large pot and add water. The water should come up to about two-thirds of the grapes, but shouldn’t completely cover them. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the grapes until they are very soft, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

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Strain the juice:

Place the colander or sieve over the pot. Then, carefully pour the grapes and their liquid into the colander. Press the grapes with a wooden spoon or clean cloth to get as much liquid as possible.

Discard the seeds:

Pour the grape juice into a new pot and discard the seeds and pulp.

Add sugar and pectin:

When the juice has cooled to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, add the sugar and pectin. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and allow it to boil for about five minutes until it thickens.

Allow to cool:

Pour the jelly into jars and let it cool for about five minutes before putting the lids on.


Wild grapes are a lovely sight in the fall, but they can leave you with an excess of fruit. Instead of throwing away all those extra grapes, use them to make your own wild grape jelly. It’s easy to do once you know how.

Making your own jelly is also a great way to prolong the life of this seasonal fruit and save money on store-bought jars. Once you’ve made a batch of homemade grape jelly, try adding it to recipes in other ways, such as by mixing it with cocktails or adding it as an element of sweet potato pie.

Make your own wild grape jelly with these simple tips and tricks, so that you don’t have excess fruit go bad after harvesting. And be sure to check out our other helpful guides for making other delicious spreads like blueberry sauce and blackberry jam.

Thoughts on “Wild Grape Jelly”

  1. ElizabethI live in a rental with tons of table grapes, and I harvested them all in a panic a while back before going on a trip because I was convinced the rats who live in my neighbor’s peach tree would eat them.
    I put them through a juicer and now I have a gallon of unfiltered frozen grape juice.
    Do you think this is a candidate for grape jelly, even though I didn’t cook them first??
    Where I come from grapes don’t grow, so I’m new to this fruit. Any advice is much appreciated.
    1. Carolinehi Elizabeth! yes, it would be, but you’ll need to change the recipe a little bit. when you make juice with a juicer, it’s way tastier to drink, but all that pulp that’s in it makes for a really cloudy-looking jelly.
      I would run it through a strainer to remove the pulp and make it into a clear juice. you may need to adjust the sugar and add some lemon juice because table grapes can be very sweet. pomona’s pectin lets you reduce the sugar to REALLY low amounts, I might follow their grape jelly recipe instead of this one.
      Alternatively, you could use the unfiltered juice for other projects. I bet it would taste great mixed into a bath of apple butter or cranberry jam.
      1. Caroline(oh- and by strainer- i mean a jelly bag)
  2. LauraHi! We had planted some grape vines my Dad had acquired from a friend.
    It’s been two summers and we have an abundance of grapes!
    I live on the NE border of NY-on the Canadian/Vermont border.
    When do I know they are ready to pick?
    We are really excited and will use every bit of info on your site. Thank you for being so kind!Laura
  3. Malcolm Leithsecond batch of grape bunches, boil 1/2 hour, mash, then drain through colander placing resultant juice in the jelly bag,
    Squeeze out as much juice as you can then place juice in wine bottles, cork, and let sit still for two days in the fridge before siphoning off clear juice.
    Bring measured clear juice plus 1 tsp lemon juice per cup to boiling before adding 3/4 cup sugar per cup juice and knob of butter till jell achieved (approx ten to 15 minutes).
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