Looking at these pictures feels like 100 years ago. I got busy and meant to write this up about a month ago, and then…. here we are, in November, post-frost. But, you know, pretend there are still grapes around or bookmark this for next fall…
The jelly turned out so good, perfect with peanut butter and wheat bread.
There are certainly some fancy pairings you can do as well; the surprisingly delicate flavor of this jelly would be lovely on a cheese plate with some soft chevre and a loaf of good bread.
During the annual whirlwind of activity immediately before the first rains of the fall, my friend Jessie, from Inland Ranch Organics let me glean some of the wine grapes from her field.
I took home a big basket of red and white grapes, slightly blemished with some mold in spots but perfectly salvageable for Wine Grape Jelly.
I’ve turned into a pectin snob when it comes to almost all of my jams — once you taste a jar of perfectly made, no added pectin apricot jam, you won’t feel like you need to put in commercial pectin anymore.
The texture is just so …. luxurious. It can be difficult to keep the flavor really bright since the cooking time is longer, but when it works, man oh man oh man does it work.
For jelly, though, even though I’ve had some success with making quince and apple with no added pectin, I just really don’t like how much sugar you have to add to make it set (most jellies with no added pectin use a 1:1 ratio of juice to sugar.) Plus, making jelly without commercial pectin is so temperamental.
Instead of having to replace all those plates, I caved and went for the sure-gel low-sugar pectin from the grocery store.
I encourage other pectin snobs to do the same when it comes to some of the fruit jellies. It’s so much easier. You know your jelly will turn out really nice. And it’s not too sweet, so you taste grape juice instead of sugar.
I was really surprised by the flavor. It’s delicious, but I was expecting something closer to concord grapes.
The juice ended up being more delicate because I used a mixture of both red and white wine grapes. I assume that the bolder the flavor you want, the fewer white wine grapes you should include.
Instead of acting like this is complicated and writing out a traditional recipe, I’d rather just share the process here, since the most difficult element is certainly finding a person growing wine grapes who will let you have some, not making the actual jelly.
Ingredients You’ll need:
- wine grapes
- lemon juice
- sure-gel low sugar pectin
- cheesecloth or a jelly bag
- half pint jars
1. Get your hands on some wine grapes. Gleaning is a good idea since most grape growers only pick the big, perfect bunches and will leave behind lots of small straggly ones.
As with all gleaned fruit, the grapes can be slightly blemished, but make sure that there are still plenty of grapes that are fresh and ripe looking since it’s really not a good idea to try and preserve semi-rotten fruit.
2. Pick through the grapes, separating the stems, leaves, and blemished ones aside from the good ones that will be for the jelly. Put the good grapes in a colander and rinse them thoroughly.
3. Transfer the grapes to a pot and add water just to cover them. Simmer the grapes for about an hour. (Lust after steam juicers on the internet while they cook.)
4. Drain this mixture through a jelly bag or cheesecloth. The resulting grape juice can be left in the fridge for jelly-making on another day or frozen for projects later in the winter.
5. To make the jelly: follow the instructions for grape jelly from the sure-gel low sugar pectin box, but add 2 oz. of lemon juice for each batch. (Just stir it in at the beginning).
Waterbath can according to the instructions in the pectin box.
6. Take a walk in the woods and look at salamanders, and think about how exciting it is that you have this free time now since you didn’t try to make no-added pectin jelly.
Make a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich. Think about how tasty homemade canned goods are. Be happy.
Another way to make Wine Grape Jelly
Making your own grape jelly is a great way to use up an abundance of grapes, and it’s a delicious way to preserve the taste of summer.
This recipe is for wild grape jelly, but you can use any type of grape you like. The process is simple and only requires a few ingredients.
You’ll need a large pot, some jars, and some patience while the jelly cooks. But the result is worth it, and you’ll have homemade grape jelly to enjoy all winter long.
Gather your Wine Grape Jelly ingredients
Use any type of grape you like for this recipe. The finished product will have the flavor of the grape, so choose the grape you like best.
The type of grape you use will determine the sugar content in the jelly, so keep that in mind when adding sugar to the recipe.
For best results, use a thick-skinned grape like a Concord grape. These will yield the least amount of juice, which is important since you want the jelly to be thick.
The other two ingredients you’ll need are lemon juice and granulated sugar.
You can use white or brown sugar, and you can use a different amount if you prefer. The amount of sugar you add will affect the taste of the finished product, so use the amount you prefer.
Wash and trim your grapes
Grapes are messy, so you’ll want to do this step outside. First, wash the grapes thoroughly to remove any dirt, insects, or pesticides. Then, use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to cut the grapes off the stems.
If you’re using wild grapes, you may have to pick the stems out of the grapes with your fingers. Wild grapes don’t have the same kind of grape stem that you’re used to seeing on store-bought grapes.
Cook the grapes
Place the grapes in a large pot and fill the pot with water. The water level should be almost to the top of the grapes. Turn the burner on high and let the grapes simmer for about an hour, or until the water starts to turn pink.
The water will turn pink as the grapes release their juice. Stir the grapes occasionally to ensure they don’t burn. After an hour, turn off the burner, cover the pot, and let the grapes sit for 30 minutes.
This will allow the juice to cool down enough so you can remove the skins from the grapes.
Remove the skins
After 30 minutes have passed, remove the grapes from the pot and place them in a colander. Place the colander in the sink and, using a spoon, remove as much of the juice as you can from the grapes.
The amount of juice you remove will determine the thickness of the jelly, so you want to remove as much as possible.
Put the grape skins back in the pot and turn the burner back on to medium-high heat.
Let the skins simmer for another 15 minutes. Stir the skins occasionally to ensure they don’t burn.
After 15 minutes, turn off the burner, cover the pot, and let the skins sit for another 30 minutes. This will allow them to cool down so they’re easy to remove from the pot.
Add sugar and lemon juice
Using a slotted spoon, remove the grape skins from the pot and discard them. You can use a colander to remove the skins from the spoon.
While the skins are cooling, you can start adding sugar and lemon juice. You can add any amount you like, but most people add 2 cups of sugar for every 3 cups of grape juice. Stir the sugar and grape juice until it’s thoroughly mixed.
Boil the mixture
This is the messy part, so do this step outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Carefully place the pot with the grape juice mixture on the burner.
Bring the mixture back to a boil and let it boil vigorously for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn off the burner and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. This will allow the mixture to thicken.
Pour into jars and seal
While the jelly is cooling, you can start preparing the jars you’ll use to store the jelly. Sterilize the jars by placing them in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can run them through the dishwasher. Make sure the jars are thoroughly clean before you fill them with the jelly.
Pour the jelly mixture into the jars, leaving about one inch of space at the top. You can use a wooden skewer or chopstick to get all the bubbles out of the jelly. You can also use a small ladle to pour the jelly into the jars.
After you’ve poured the jelly into the jars, use a clean cloth to wipe the rims of the jars. This will help ensure a good seal when you put the lids on.
You can store the jelly in the pantry for up to a year, but it’s best to eat it within 4 months of making it. If you’re giving it as a gift, you can seal the jars with a lid and a ribbon, and you can write the date and instructions on how to use the jelly on the ribbon.
Enjoy your homemade grape jelly all winter long! If you want to make grape jam, follow the same instructions, but stir the mixture less.
For grape jam, you want to keep as many grape seeds in the jelly as possible. It’s easier to open a jar of jelly than a jar of jam, and it’s messier to make.
8 thoughts on “Wine Grape Jelly”
- SamanthaI was looking for the wine in the recipe. 🙂
- HeidiYou are my new favorite person:) Haven’t seen a salamander since I was a kid:) I too relished in the fact that I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to pick a late harvest batch of Petite Verdot and some Zinfandale grapes:) From a winery up the hill from us….:) its only 20 miles, but it feels like 1000 miles away from the city:) I just have say.. OMG! I picked three buckets of wine grapes on a beautiful Saturday November morning, and had 52 jars of amazing jelly by the next Saturday:) When you got em’, you HAVE to do something with them! They are beyond delicious…:) Thank you for your input and love the salamanders…:):)
- typeauxHave you since tried it with only RED grapes? The mix sounds interesting, but I have a zinfandel vine (cutting from the famed Rockpile vineyard) that produced loads of clusters this year. I think it might make outstanding jelly. Of course I might drink something from the parent vines while it’s cooking… :o)
- TypeauxAs a first-timer, I need all the help I can get. I have my own wine grape vine (a clone of the highly-regarded Rockpile Vineyard Zinfandel) and got a really decent yield this year, so was really looking forward to making Rockpile Zinfandel Jelly, both for my own consumption and to give away to my foodie/wino friends.
The most tedious part was stripping off the fruit from perhaps forty clusters (the fruit was quite ripe, so this took about an hour and a half). This gave me a lot of juice in the end (my large stock pot was about 3/4 full) and while that was simmering I turned to the Sure-Gel Low Sugar directions and was appalled to find that they do NOT tell you a.) when and where to add the pectin, but also b.) how much to use. I scurried to the Internet and sorted through a dozen recipes and found one that said to use one teaspoon for every cup of juice.
The Sure-Gel recipe called for 5-1/2 cups of juice, so I added 5-1/2 teaspoons (+ a pinch) to the juice, along with the sugar and lemon juice (from your recipe). The flavor is amazing, but the jelly is runny. So now I have to empty the jars (re-wash and re-heat them) add water to the runny jelly to get back my 5-1/2 cups, and recook with the remainder of the pectin.
I suppose we are supposed to magically assume that their recipe requires the full box, but the instructions do NOT state that anywhere. Needless to say, I’m disappointed, but from what I’ve read, it is far better to have runny jelly (which can be thickened) than have too much pectin (which can’t be fixed).
- Roxanne PompilioThanks for sharing this info. I’m planning to make Wine Jelly with my Syrah Grapes. I didn’t know about the pectin issue, so thanks. Wish me luck. If I’m successful, maybe I’ll make wine.
- typeauxGood luck with your syrah jelly! Let us know how it came out. My thoughts are that I might have let the grapes get a little too ripe (sugar solids in grapes are measured in “degrees brix”), but zinfandel is tricky on younger vines because the grapes don’t ripen evenly. You can have overripe and green grapes on the same cluster. I’m thinking that some of the tarter, still- greenish grapes might add more complexity to the final mix.
- TypeauxFollow-up: Using the entire box of Sure-Gel for batches #2 and #3 helped (#3 is substantially better than #1 but still not as set as I’d like it, #2 came out still a bit on the runny side, but better than #1). I will likely re-cook and re-set the first two batches with more pectin. Using more sugar is not an option, since the flavor is *fantastic!* More sugar would detract from the wonderful zinfandel grape flavor, which is nothing at all like the usual Concord grape jelly we all know. It’s just that it needs some additional thickening since it wants to run off of whatever I put it on. :o(
- PamI’m making or trying to make wine grape jelly from Cabernet Franc. The grapes themselves have a wonderful flavor…they are gleanings from our own vineyard here in West Texas. However, I’ve already goofed – added all the sugar to the grapes THEN simmered the 10 minutes according to the Sure-gel box. Will that totally mess up the jelly making? Have not added the pectin yet. Thanks. Enjoyed your insights.