My grandma Jones made wild grape jelly in August. It was such a deep purple it looked black in the jar. This is her recipe.
The wild grapes around Iowa are Vitis raparia more commonly known as the fox, skunk, or riverbank grapes. They make the tangy sweet jelly, Welches can only dream about.
This recipe yields 7 cups of jelly.
5 pounds wild grapes on stems
3 1/2 cups water
7 cups white sugar
1 packet Sure-Jell
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil (optional)
Jelly jars for 7 cups of jelly
- In the Midwest wild grapes usually ripen at the end of August. Take a canoe trip down the river or walk the banks and fill your old 5-gallon ice-cream bucket with grapes. Use a produce sale to weigh the grapes stems and all. A full five gallon bucket should be about five pounds.
- Wash the grapes gently in cool water. Remove any damaged grapes and leaves. Don’t worry about taking the grapes off their stems; it’s a lot of work and it doesn’t affect the recipe.
- Put the grapes in a big pot and add 3 1/2 cups water. Simmer covered for 20 minutes. After boiling use cheese cloth or a strainer to remove the stems and grape skins. You will be left with a clear juice.
- Measure how much juice you have made. You should be close to 5 cups juice. It is important to be exact. If it is over 5 cups discard the extra. If it is not enough add water to reach five cups. It is key not to dilute your juice. If you are more than a half cup under, boil more grapes or reduce the recipe accordingly. At this point you can save your juice and make jelly another day or you can keep going.
- Get out your canning jars, lids and the canner. Start by filling the canner half full with water and bringing the water to a simmer. Keep the water simmering while you make the jelly.
- Sterilize your jelly jars and their lids by either running them through a hot dishwasher, or washing them in soapy water and then carefully pouring boiling water over them. Keep the jars clean by placing them upside down on a clean towel. Avoid contaminating them, do not put your fingers, or tongs inside the jars.
- In a 6 or 8 quart sauce pan add the 5 cups juice and the packet of pectin. At this point you can add the vegetable oil if you want. It will help reduce foaming so the jelly has a nice smooth surface as it cools and make it more manageable in the sauce pan. Measure out the white sugar and have it standing ready.
- Over high heat bring the juice and pectin to a full boil, stir constantly with a metal spoon. Pour the sugar in and continue stirring. When the jelly returns to a rolling boil, time exactly one minute, then remove the pan from the burner. Use the metal spoon to skim any foam off the top.
- Working quickly pour the hot jelly into the jelly jars. Leave at least a quarter inch between the jelly and the rim of the jar. If needed with a clean towel wipe the lip and rim of the jar clean. Then cover the jar with the lid and screw on the band tightly.
- Carefully remove the jar rack from the canner and place the hot jars into the jar rack. Lower the rack into the canner. The water should be 1 to 2 inches above the tops of the jars. Add more hot water if needed. Cover and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes.
- Using tongs and hot pads, remove the jelly jars from the canner and place upside down on towels to cool. When the jars are completely cool check the seals my pressing on the lid. You should not be able to depress the lid. If one of the jars doesn’t seal put it in the refrigerator and use it first.
- Store your jelly in a dark, temperature controlled place. The jelly will be good for years, but I doubt it will last that long.