How to make jelly from wild Mustang Grapes.
or more appropriately (Pictures to go along with the Sure Jell directions) Seriously people, don’t reinvent the wheel. The sure jell people know how to do this. It’s sort of their job.
First, don’t eat them. The skins are bitter and they have seeds. When we were little, we used to pop out the guts and try to spit out the seeds and eat the centers, but it’s a lot of work. The best thing to do with them is make jelly! We found that the vines on our property were loaded down and perfectly ripe so we decided it was jelly making day. We are going out of town again so it was now or never.
The first thing we did was remove all the stems and wash them. There can be some white foam on them. No, it’s not toxic. No, there isn’t anything gross about it. No, it’s not bugs. The grapes just do that when they get fully ripe. We just filled our bucket with water and gave them a swish. Then we pulled all the grapes off the stems and put them into a large stock pot. We mash them up with a potato masher.
Once they are mashed up, we put them on to boil. We don’t add water. There is plenty of juice from the grape centers. But don’t try to squish out the centers only. The pretty purple color comes from those skins. We bring this to a boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Stir often.
Next we layer 3-4 pieces of cheesecloth in a colander. Then we pour the cooked grape mixture in and let it sit and drain. This will take a while. Don’t try to squeeze it all out, just be patient and let it sit and drain. Go do something else. Get your jars ready. Those need to be immaculately clean. We also get our lids in a small pan of water. We bring it to a quick boil to kill any germs. Don’t boil the crap out of it though. You will melt the seals on the lids.
You can also get your pectin ready. You need to stir in one package of sure jel into 3/4 cup of cold water in a small saucepan. boil for two minutes, stirring the whole time. Then remove from heat and set aside until you are ready for it.
Once it’s drained, you get beautiful grape juice.
Measure out five cups of the juice and seven cups of sugar. Yes. Seven. Don’t act surprised that jelly has that much sugar in it. And do a good job measuring. I fill the measuring spoon and use the back of a knife to level it off. If your recipe is off, your jelly won’t gel. This is science, not art.
Put it back on the stove and bring to a simmer and add your sugar and pectin mixture in, whisking well. I also add a small piece of butter. It keeps it from foaming up so much. Once this is in, bring it to a rolling boil on high heat. What is a rolling boil? The bubbles don’t stop when you stir. Let it boil like this for thirty seconds. And don’t stop stirring! Sugar can scorch in an instant.
Take it off the heat and skim off any foam. Then you can fill your jars. Fill to within 1/8 inch of the top and make sure no jelly is on the rim of the jar when you put the lid on. It will prevent the lid from sealing. Once the jar is full, put the lid and ring on and just hand tighten. The hot jelly should make the jars seal on their own. If the lids don’t pop, you may need to water bath them. We have never had an issue with jars not sealing if we use the very hot jelly mixture.
Make sure to label your jars so you know the date it was made. We never keep jarred foods for more than 12 months. Who are we kidding. With seven kids, the jelly will last a couple of months at most.