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.



  1. I followed your recipe to a "t" and my jelly was runny. It has a great flavor though. I'm making it again and doubling the pectin. So I have 16 pints of runny jelly. Lol. Thanks for the recipe. Maybe doubling the pectin will help.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear your jelly didn't set well. If you're sure you used the correct amounts of sugar and pectin and boiled it long enough to set, then maybe it could be the kind of pectin you used. Try using no sugar needed fruit pectin (even though you still add the sugar).
    There is a test I've heard of to see if your jelly is ready. Put a plate in the freezer till it's very cold. Take it out and put a small amount of your jelly on top after boiling, if it doesn't run it should be ready. If not you need to cook it more.
    I hope this helps...Good Luck!

  3. Just tried to make sugar free jelly and it turned out nasty!!! It set perfect but brought such a pucker...ech!! lol Can we not make sugar free with mustang grapes? Both in-laws are diabetic but still love this type of jelly (Gramma used to make bunches every year) Help!!!!