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!
TO MAKE JELLY:
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
Do not double recipe when canning jelly. It is always better to do separate batches. Good luck!
Makes about 8 pints.