Making Concord grape jelly is my favorite canning project of the season. I love giving it to friends as it is very unique since most have only tasted storebought. When you try homemade Concord grape jelly is it like a lightbulb flickers on. Sweet, rich, purple jelly that tastes like the brand that starts with a W, but oh, so much fresher and brighter. There are no preservatives in this jelly, just fresh grape juice, sugar, and pectin.

Fair warning, this jelly is a true, BIG project if you make it from Concord grapes that you’ve picked or purchased. If you have access to Concord grapes, I ask that you try making this jam at least once in your lifetime. My first attempt was a mess as I had very little canning experience, used a colander to extract the juice, and made a double batch of jam that boiled over onto my stove and created a two-hour cleaning job. However, every year I continued to make this jam despite the growing pains. It really is that delicious!

How many grapes should you buy? The very rough rule of thumb is one pound of grapes makes one cup of juice. However, I bought twenty pounds of grapes and ended up with 25 cups of grape juice. It really depends. If you end up with too much juice you can waterbath can the juice as-is for your pantry OR drink within one week. It’s the best grape juice you will ever taste.

Preservation method: Waterbath canning

Difficulty level: Advanced

For one batch, you will need about seven 8 oz jars and closures, a steamer/juicer or colander and cheesecloth for juice extraction, a boiling-water canner, rack, jar lifter, and a canning funnel. Do not double this recipe as jam bubbles and boils during the cooking process and will possibly boil over onto your stovetop.

Concord Grape Jelly

Makes about seven 8 oz jars

5 cups Concord grape juice

1 package regular powdered fruit pectin

6 cups granulated sugar

1/2 tsp butter (optional, to reduce foam)

Juice Extraction

To extract juice from grapes using a Steamer/Juicer, follow your manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

  • Fill the water container to about 3/4 full with water.
  • Place on stove and heat.
  • Place the juice container above the heating water making sure that the hose and clamp are secure.
  • Fill the fruit basket with grapes (stems and a few leaves attached ok!) and place in position above the juice container.
  • Place lid on top and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a minimum ensuring that the water continues to boil and produce steam, being mindful that the water does not dry out in the chamber.

To extract grape juice using a colander:

  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, crush stemmed, clean grapes. Add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until skins are soft. 30 minutes.
  • Transfer softened grapes into a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep pot or bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for at least two hours. Press with a wooden spoon to extract as much juice as possible. Cover juice and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.

Waterbath Canning

Place rack in the bottom of a boiling water canner, then place empty jars on the rack. Add water to the jars and the canner until the jars are about two-thirds full. Cover the canner and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Place lids in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not boil. Keep lids hot until ready to use.

Place grape juice in a large, deep pot. Whisk in pectin to dissolve. Add butter. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard (a boil that cannot be stirred down), stirring constantly for one minute. Remove from heat.

Quickly pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

Wipe rims of jars with a damp cloth and ensure that the rims are completely free of jam. Apply lids and bands and adjust until fingertip tight. Place jars in boiling water canner.When all jars are in the canner, adjust the water level in the canner so that it covers the jars by at least one inch. Cover the canner with a lid and bring water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling hard and continuously, begin counting the processing time of 10 minutes.

Once 10 minutes is complete, turn off heat and let jars sit in canner an additional five minutes (this standing time allows the pressure inside the jars to stabilize and reduces the likelihood of liquid loss that could otherwise occur when the jars are removed.)

Remove jars and place on a kitchen towel-lined space. The towel will help reduce the chance of jar breakage. Do not dry the lids or jars at this point. You do not want to disturb the lids while the seals are being formed. Allow jars to cool for 24 hours before removing bands and wiping down jars. Date jars and store in a cool dry place for up to one year.

Recipes found at Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, copyright 2006

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