Homemade concord grape jelly tastes nothing like sticky-sweet supermarket grape jelly. It has a deep, concentrated grape flavour and is equally tart and sweet. A jar of this jelly will find its way into many, many Christmas stockings this year – a Christmas stocking factory’s worth. It has all the kid-friendly nostalgia you remember, but with lovely floral notes and a thick consistency that comes from using concords at their peak and I love the purple.
My pal Linda bought an old farm house that was un-lived in long enough for grape vines to drape all the windows of the charming house – a bonanza of lovely ripe concord grapes planted by a farm family years ago. I picture the farmer’s wife making jars of jelly to fill her preserve cupboard in the house’s basement.
Linda described the amount she picked with hand gestures and I determined that adding some farmer’s market purchased grapes to the mix would make a canning session worthwhile. Mistake. Big mistake. Hence the 72 jars, the Grapes of Wrath of canning sessions, zombi apocalypse preparedness, multiple store trips for more jars and two days of purple stained everything. Good thing the jelly is amazing.
Too make a normal-sized batch you will need:
- 7.5 lbs concord grapes (Linda’s were perfectly ripe and organic)
- 1 pkg fruit pectin crystals
- 5 cups granulated sugar
Rinse grapes; drain well. Remove enough from stems to make 10 cups (2.5 L), discarding any wrinkled or bruised grapes.
In 26-cup (6.5 L) pot, crush grapes with potato masher. Add 1 cup (250 mL) water; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Scoop cooked grapes and juice into jelly bag suspended over large measuring cup or bowl. Let drip, without squeezing bag, until juice measures 4 cups (1 L), about 2 hours. (Or place in colander lined with triple thickness of damp cheesecloth. Bring up sides and tie top with string to form bag. Tie bag to cupboard handle or support bar over large measuring cup or bowl. Let drip, without squeezing bag, until juice measures 4 cups/1 L, about 2 hours.)
In large pot, bring juice and pectin to boil. Stir in sugar; bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Boil vigorously, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.
Using sterilized metal funnel and 1/2-cup (125 mL) measure, pour into hot sterilized 1-cup (250 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch (5 mm) headspace. If necessary, wipe rims. Cover with prepared lids (boiling water poured over them in a bowl to sterilize); screw on bands fingertip tight.
Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Transfer jars to rack; let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Unlike other jams, it takes that long for grape jelly to set up so it’s hard to determine if it will gel. Check for seal, ensuring that lids curve downward. If for some reason your jelly is too runny…this may have happened with one or two of our batches…it’s possible to empty the jars back out into the big pot, add some more pectin, re-boil and go through the entire canning process again. What’s eating Gilbert Grape? Doing things twice always ranks up there but the result is worth it. (Use full amount of pectin the recipe calls for.)
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