Our grape vine has been producing more grapes than ever before which is amazing considering we are in a drought. Because of this I needed to do something with all of those grapes. I decided that I would make grape jelly with them.
I have made blackberry jelly lots of times so I figured it would be a similar process. I usually use Sure Jell with good results. I thought I had some with my canning supplies, but I was wrong. I didn’t want to drag 5 kids to the store just to get one thing so I improvised and made it the old fashioned way, without any pectin.
You know what? It wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. When I was finished with the grape jelly I made two batches of blackberry jelly the same way.
I canned a total of 15 jars of jelly today and now I am feeling a little jellied out. When my husband called to tell me he was on his way home from work this afternoon I was on the last batch. I decided to answer the phone by saying, “Jackie’s Jellies”. He thought that was cute.
I was asked a question as to whether this jelly is thick or not. So, I thought I would share a picture of how it looks out of the jar.
It’s definitely thick and very tasty, too.
If you are interested in knowing how I made the grape jelly, and blackberry jelly too for that matter, here is a little photo recap of the process. Any of you jelly making experts out there feel free to chime in and let me know if I didn’t explain anything properly.
Look at how pretty those grapes are! First, I washed the grapes and then put them in a pan. Then I added about 1 cup of water to the pan. I didn’t measure how many grapes I had to get a perfect water to grape ratio. I was winging it.
The next thing I did was bring the grapes to a boil and crush/mash them while they were cooking. I boiled them for about 5 minutes.
And no, none of us did any grape stomping. Not that my kids wouldn’t have wanted to, I just wasn’t feeling it today.
This is the point where I did a little improvising. Owning a jelly strainer would have been helpful. Also, replenishing my supply of cheesecloth would have been equally helpful. However, I decided to use a clean T-shirt (Rinsed to make sure there was no soap build-up.) and a colander.
You are supposed to let the grapes strain overnight and not squeeze the bag. Confession: I did not let the grapes strain overnight and I did squeeze the bag. I think the jelly turned out fine in spite of my impatience.
I ended up with 4 cups of grape juice when all was said and done. That apparently was just the amount I needed.
I poured the juice into a pan and added 3 cups of sugar (I used evaporated cane juice.). I stirred it well and then turned the heat to high.
Here is where a candy thermometer is very helpful because I couldn’t figure out if the juice was at the jelling point by using the spoon test. So, I boiled the grape juice until my thermometer read 220 degrees Fahrenheit and it was just right.
I would like to note that it took approximately 40-45 minutes from the time I turned the burner on until the jelly was ready. I stirred the jelly fairly frequently but not constantly. My pan is a heavy bottom stainless steel pan and is great for jobs like this.
While I was boiling the juice and sugar mixture, I was also heating a large pan with jelly jars and lids. I didn’t boil the water but simmered it.
I had also filled my water bath canner with water and had it heating up as well.
Now, back to that jelly. When the juice had reached 220 degrees Fahrenheit it was ready to ladle into the jars. I removed one jar at a time from the hot water and let it dry for just a second on a towel. Then I filled each jar to within 1/2-1/4 inch from the top.
I highly recommend a canning funnel for filling the jars.
Finally, I wiped the top of each jar with a damp cloth to remove any jelly from the rim. Then I put a hot lid on top of each jar and tightened a canning ring on top. Be careful not to over-tighten the rings. Stop when you feel resistance.
After lowering the rack into the water I put the lid on and waited for the water to come to a rolling boil. When it was boiling well I set a timer for 5 minutes.
When the 5 minutes were up I removed the jars from the canner and set them on a towel to cool. As they were cooling I heard the lovely pinging sound that jars make when they are sealed. Music to my ears.
To make the blackberry jelly I used the same process except for the fact that I used 5 cups of juice and 6 cups of sugar.
Just for fun, what is your favorite kind of jelly?
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