Friday, September 30, 2011

Homemade Wild Mustang Grape Jelly

I love this time of year.  The kids are back in school and that means I have more time for crafting.  Back to school also means Fall is almost here, then Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, OH MY!  But that's another story.

Every year, about August, I see our grapevines full of plump grapes growing wild in our Live Oak trees all over our Texas ranch.  This year they were even more bountiful than usual.  And I thought to myself, 'You know, you really need to make some homemade grape jelly'.  Ok, so I've never made homemade jelly before, but I thought, hey, why not?  My boys LOVE grape jelly, it's so cheap to make and, along with a loaf of homemade bread, would make and awesome gift.  Just think of the teachers, neighbors, friends, family and co-workers who would enjoy getting a jar of homemade jelly. (Made with love, of course.)  So I borrowed my mother-in-law's canning colander and and got busy.

Picking the grapes was actually fun since the whole family pitched in.  My husband got in the bucket of our tractor and I raised him up to get the ones up high while my 2 sons and I picked the lower grapes.  Even my husband's mother and grandmother helped out.  By the way my husband's grandmother is 90 and still gets around pretty good.  I really wish I would have remembered to wear some gloves since I get a little itchy picking wild grapes.  Oh well, next time I will remember!  Now with a couple of buckets of grapes,  I was ready to de-stem, boil and strain them babies.

Now in case some of you are terrified of making your own homemade jelly, like I was, I'm here to tell ya' it's actually pretty easy.  I won't say it's not messy when you squeeze the juice from wild grapes.  They really have a lot of seeds!  If they weren't growing all around our house, I would have bought grape juice to make it.  Hey, free is GOOD!

I learned later that we had picked many more grapes than I needed.  I ended up with so much grape juice that I made 3 big batches that filled 3 cases of large mason jars.  Needless to say, my family, friends and teachers all got some homemade wild mustang grape jelly.  I also learned that wild grapes have large seeds that make it hard to strain in the colander and get as much juice as possible.

The true taste test came from my two boys.  On two separate occasions I made them toast and jelly and peanut butter and jelly with honey sandwiches.  (Apparently, a childhood favorite of my husband's.)  They loved it and always ask for "Mommy's jelly" now.

If you don't have wild grapes, just get some from the store when they're on sale or use grape juice concentrate and go for it!  Red or purple work the best at white or green turn out too bland.  You might want to cut down the sugar a little if you don't want it very sweet with the store bought grapes.  Mustang grapes are a little bitter and need the sugar.  Enjoy!



For one batch of jelly, use about 3 quarts of grapes and 3 cups of water. Do not use too much water or you will ruin the flavor. Place in pot and bring to boil until skins are tender. Remove from burner and put through fruit juice smasher and strainer. When cool enough, place into refrigerator until next morning. Strain through 2 thicknesses of cheesecloth if you want your jelly to be clear. Mustang grapes can be a little bitter, so you can add a little extra sugar if you want it sweeter.  Your juice is now ready for jelly making!

  •  5 Cups grape juice
  • 1 box powdered no sugar needed pectin

  • 5 Cups sugar
Measure juice into a large pot about 8-10 quart size.  Mix pectin with juice and bring quickly to a hard, rolling boil, stirring occasionally.  Add sugar all at once.  Stir well until sugar dissolves and bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down).  Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim off foam with a metal spoon or ladel and discard.  Pour at once into hot, sterilized jelly jars leaving 1/4 inch space from top of jar rim.  Wipe jar edge with a damp towel and seal with new hot lids in a caner or hot water bath for 5 minutes or, like I do, just let the heat from the jelly seal the jars.  Remove and let cool.  Check the lids for good seals.

Do not double recipe when canning jelly.  It is always better to do separate batches.  Good luck!

Makes about 8 pints.


Jewelry Making Basics - Pickle

If you work with metal, especially precious metal, in your jewelry then you probably use or have at least heard about pickle.  This acidic solution is available from most jewelry supply stores or you can make your own at home. Pickle is used to clean flux residue and oxidation off of your metal.  If you want a slight antique finish you will want to use another method like a polishing cloth that will only remove surface oxidation. 

I use a powdery crystal-like product called PH Minus that is normally used in pools to lower the ph levels.  I had read about using PH Minus, but the article writer hadn't actually tried it.  Since I had a giant tub on hand for our pool, I thought I'd give it a try.  It worked great!

There's no exact ratio, just mix a small amount with water.  I store my pickle in a small crock pot.  This pickle will work cold, but it works faster when warm.  Also keep a lid on it so it won't evaporate or get anything in it and keep out of children's reach.

When you have some oxidized metal, just drop it in and wait until all the oxidation is gone, then remove with copper tongs.
  If you use anything steel to fish out your metal, everything will get copper plated.  If your metal it hot from torching or soldering, make sure the item has cooled before placing it in the pickle so as not to burn or contaminate it.  The amount of time depends on how strong your pickle is, the temperature of your pickle and how much oxidation there is on your item.  Be careful not to inhale or get any on your skin or in your eyes.  It might be a milder version of commercial pickle, but it's still an acid, so take precautions.  I always wear eye protection and gloves.  After I remove my items from the pickle, I place them on clean paper towels and then rinse them in cold water.  You might need to polish your items with a polishing cloth and shine it up.

Well, there you have it.  I hope you have found this tutorial helpful.  Please leave a comment if you liked it or come back and let me know how it's working for you!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blue Highways - Bloggers Unite Featured Artisan

This week's Featured Artisan is Andrea Zimmerman Rogers - Blue Highways. Gorgeous Handbound books and journals. A work of art to keep your thoughts, pics and more! You can find Blue Highways on:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Flower & Bud Jewelry - Bloggers Unite Featured Artisan

This weeks Featured Artisan is Debbi La Rue - Flower & Bud Handcrafted Jewelry!
You can find Flower & Bud on:
You can grab the code for your blog here:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Moss and Mist Featured Artisan Share the Love.. Blogger's Unite

This weeks Featured Artisan is Sharri Powell - Most and Mist! Gorgeous creations created with love.
You can find Most and Mist on:
Grab the code for your blog here:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vaudeville Gypsy - Bloggers Unite Featured Artisan

This Weeks Featured Artisan is Vaudeville Gypsy. Truly Unique Creations
to tickle your fancy! You can find Vaudeville Gypsy on: