Homemade grape jelly/jam is like summer in a jar!
September is the time for Uncle John’s Grape Jelly recipe. We are sharing this recipe again in honor and memory of my sweet Great Uncle John, he passed away at the age of 90! He was married to Aunt Mary for 57 years. He was a WWII Veteran, a Middle School Principal, basketball coach and a wonderful Uncle who taught us many things.
He left us with many priceless memories including secrets for amazing cooking, baking, gardening, fishing and canning. One of my favorite places to visit was his home. It gave me a peaceful feeling inside that is hard to find.
He loved to grow things and still worked in his garden at age 90, even with his walker!
When he passed he left a 20 foot concord grape vine overflowing with beautiful succulent grapes. I loved eating those grapes and admiring their beauty. Uncle John’s passions were people and food. I’m sharing one of those with you now…
This Grape Jam Recipe was made with love and we hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it and eating it!
The first step in making the most amazing grape jam/jelly is picking the grapes at their peak flavor. The peak time may surprise you. Many people may look at the grape to decide when to pick but the secret is in the vine and stems! The peak time is when the vine and stems are a light brown color. Picking grapes at this time will give you the most flavorful, thicker jelly.
After the grapes are picked you need to separate the stems, leaves, bugs and dirt. Take a bunch and run them under the kitchen faucet with the sprayer option. Place them in a large metal bowl with cold water. This allows all the debris to float off the grapes. Separate the stems at this point and pick the best grapes in the bunch. Take those grapes and re-rinse again under the kitchen faucet. Start preparing your jars.
- Fill your canner half-way and turn on high heat to boil.
- While canner water is coming to a boil, wash glass jars and screw bands in hot soapy water then rinse with warm water. Put jars in hot water until ready to use.
- Boil water in second saucepan, take off heat and put lids in this hot water until ready to use.
- Next is the time to decide whether to make Jam or Jelly. Where do you go from here? I’ll list both ways and you decide!
Uncle John’s Grape JELLY:
Mash grapes with a hand potato masher. Cook grapes over medium high heat until the grape balls are dissolved and the grapes become like grape soup with grape skins and seeds. The color will be a deep purple and the smell with fill your house with a succulent grape scent. This is where everyone in your house comes to the kitchen and wants to be there with you because it smells sooo good.
The next step in making jelly is to separate the cooked seeds and skins from the pulp. This can be done in many different ways. I’ve done several but I’ll share my two favorite types. One is to take a metal strainer and pour the grapes in and let it separate. Put a heavy bowl on the skins and press hard to push all the juice out. My other favorite step is to use gauze and pour the juice in the gauze draped over a bowl. Put on gloves and squeeze all the juice out of the gauze. Both steps allow a lot of the skin pulp to be added to the juice which helps create a thicker jelly. This juice is the prepared juice you will need to make your jelly!
Uncle John’s Grape JAM:
If you would like to make the jam method, begin by separating the cleaned skins from the pulp. Take the skins and chop them in a food processor. Mash the skinless grapes with a hand potato masher. Cook skinless grapes over medium high heat until the grape balls are dissolved and the grapes become like grape soup. You will need to separate the seeds from the juice. The seeds are very easy to strain with a metal strainer. Next add the chopped skins and heat until skins are very soft. This juice is the prepared juice you will need to make your jam!
The same directions below apply to both jam and jelly.
* please don’t double the recipe or your jelly/jam will be too thin and won’t set correctly.
- Measure 5 1/2 cups of prepared juice, 1/2 teas. of butter or margarine to reduce foaming and 1 package of pectin. (I like Sure Jell powder best. I’ve tried several and they are not all the same.) Boil on medium high stirring constantly. Allow the juice to boil to full rolling boil where the bubbling continues while stirring.
- Add 7 cups of sugar (no more, no less). I recommend using the better quality sugar for best results. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.Take pan off heat. Skim off any foam.
- Use a metal ladle and plastic canning funnel and fill prepared jars quickly to within 1/8 inch of top of jar. Wipe jar rims and threads, cover with lids and screw band on tightly.
- Place jars on rack in canner. Lower rack in canner. The water needs to cover the jars by 1-2 inches. You may need to add boiling water. Cover the canner and bring to a gentle boil. Process jams 10 minutes and jelly 5 minutes. Remove jars and place on a towel to cool.
*The popping jars are like music to your ears. Check each jar and make sure the center doesn’t spring back. If it does the lid isn’t sealed and it will need to be refrigerated.
5. Let the jars stay at room temperature for 24 hours. Store in cool, dry, dark place up to 1 year. Refrigerate jam/jelly for 3 weeks. Enjoy!
In Loving Memory of Uncle John
1924 – 2014
You are missed by many!