Grape Expectations: How to Make Grape Jelly

Turn grapes into delicious homemade jelly.
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Use seasonal grapes to make America’s favorite jelly.

Use seasonal grapes to make America’s favorite jelly.

Use seasonal grapes to make America’s favorite jelly.

Use seasonal grapes to make America’s favorite jelly.

When it comes to jelly, grape tops the list. Before peanut allergies became a hot-button issue in schools, peanut butter and jelly was the sack lunch sandwich of choice, and if it was jelly, odds are it was the glorious grape and there would be no trading.

Unlike jam, which leaves the solids of fleshy fruits in the mix, jelly is made using only the juice, yielding a clear, sweet and flavorful spread. Although fruit jellies have been around since at least the 1300s, grape jelly may be a uniquely American creation. Wild grapes were plentiful in the time of the early American settlers, and grape jelly was among their many uses. When Concord grapes first made the scene in the mid-1800s, their rich color and sweet flavor with a hint of bite made them an instant hit with jelly-makers. Dentist-turned-grape-mogul Thomas Bramwell Welch was selling it commercially by the early 1900s as “grapelade.” The Army bought it by the truckload during World War I, and its popularity with soldiers sent its success skyrocketing.

A ready grower that requires little space, Concord grapes have become a common backyard crop. Whether you grow them yourself, visit one of the many “pick your own” vineyards or find them at your local farmers' market, using Concord grapes to make jelly at home is a great use of this late summer/early fall crop. Homemade grape jelly captures the sweet, vibrant taste of fresh grapes in a way that store-bought can’t quite muster. That peanut butter and jelly sandwich has never been better, even if you can’t take it to school.

Grape Jelly

  • 4 pounds grapes
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 1 package dry pectin

Wash grapes and remove stems.

Crush grapes or pulse in food processor.

Place grapes plus 1 cup of water in a heavy pot and boil 10 minutes.

Strain juice from pulp using cheesecloth or a jelly strainer (yield 5 cups juice).

Transfer juice to heavy pot and stir in 1 package dry pectin.

Bring to boil, then stir in sugar.

Return to boil for one minute.

Ladle into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Cap with lids and bands.

Process in water bath 5 minutes.

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