How to Make Homemade Grape Jelly from Bottled or Frozen Grape Juice - Easily! With Step-by-step Photos, Recipe, Directions, Ingredients and Costs
This month's notes: April 2014: Spring is just around the corner. Strawberries are here in Florida, Texas and California, next in late March and April for much of the South, then in May for most of the country and June in cooler northern areas. See how easy it is to make strawberry jam or strawberry-rhubarb jam!
How to Make Homemade Grape Jelly from Bottled Grape Juice - Easily!see this page for directions about making other types of jelly from bottled or frozen juice. Any variations will be spelled out in the directions inside the pectin package.
Yield: about 12 eight-ounce jars (which is the same as 6 pints).
- Grape juice - 6 cups bottled, without sugar added or reconstituted from frozen, without sugar
- Pectin - 2 boxes needed (it's a natural product, made from apples and available at grocery stores (season - spring through late summer) and local "big box" stores. It usually goes for about $2.00 to $2.50 per box. You'll get best results with no-sugar needed pectin, whether you choose to add sugar or not! See here for more information about how to choose the type of pectin to use.
- Sugar - About 4.5 cups of dry, granulated (table) sugar, if you use the no-sugar-needed pectin (the only type I recommend) or low sugar pectin. If you use regular pectin, you'll need 7 cups of sugar. Of course, you can substitute honey, agave, stevia or Splenda; see the no-sugar recipe, click here.
- At least 1 large pot; I prefer 16 to 20 quart Teflon lined pots for easy cleanup.
- 1 Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.). Note: we sell canners and supplies here, too - at excellent prices - and it helps support this web site!
- Ball jars (Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger, Safeway carry them, as do some big box stores - about $7 per dozen 8 ounce jars including the lids and rings)
- Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar. They may only be used once.
- Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars. They may be reused many times.
- Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at big box stores or it comes in the kit at left)
- Large spoons and ladles
- Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) or order it as part of the kit with the jar grabber.
- Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)- Big box stores and
grocery stores sometimes carry them; and it is available online - see
this page. It's a tremendously useful to put jars in the canner
and take the hot jars out (without scalding yourself!). The kit sold
below has everything you need, and at a pretty good price:
Grape Jelly-from-Juice Directions
This example shows you how to make grape jelly. You can use this recipe to make almost any type of jelly from the fruit juice; where there is a difference, I will point it out! The yield from this recipe is about 12 eight-ounce jars (which is the same as 6 pints).
Step 1 - Wash the jars and lids
Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.
NOTE: If unsanitized jars are used, the product should be processed for 5 more minutes. However, since this additional processing can result in a poor set (runny jelly), it’s better to sanitize the jars.
Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.
Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot jelly.
Step 2 - Measure out the sugar
Check the directions with the pectin; typically, it is 7 cups of sugar for regular pectin (4.5 cups for no-sugar pectin) to 5 or 6 cups of grape juice and one box of pectin; but I add about another 1/2 box of pectin to get a firmer set. The precise measurements are found in each and every box of pectin sold. Mix the dry pectin with about 1/4 cup of sugar and Keep this separate from the rest of the sugar. If you are not using sugar, you'll just have to stir more vigorously to prevent the pectin from clumping.
Again, if you use regular pectin, you'll need 7 cups of sugar, which is a LOT of sugar, so I recomend using the no-sugar-needed pectin, which halves the sugar. Of course, you can substitute honey, agave, stevia or Splenda; see the no-sugar recipe, click here.
Step 3 - Add the pectin to the hot juice and bring to a full boil
Stir the pectin into the grape juice and put the mix in a big pot on the stove over medium to high heat (stir often enough to prevent burning). It should take about 5 to 10 minutes to get it to a full boil (the kind that cannot be stirred away).
Notes about pectin: I usually add about 30% to 50% more pectin (just open another pack and add a little) or else the jelly is runnier than I like. With a little practice, you'll find out exactly how much pectin to get the thickness you like.
Another tip: use the low sugar or no-sugar pectin. It cuts the amount of sugar you need from 7 cups per batch to 4 cups. And it tastes even better! On the other hand; I still add some sugar, even with the No-sugar pectin. With no added sugar, the batches always turned out runny and bland. You might want to try using the low sugar recipe with a mixture of sugar and Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda); that could work.
Is your jelly too runny? Pectin enables you to turn out perfectly set jelly
every time. Made from natural apples, there are also natural no-sugar
pectins that allow you to reduce the sugar you add by half or even eliminate
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Step 4 - Get the lids warming
If you didn't do so already, put the lids into a pan of hot water for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean the lids.
Need lids, rings and replacement jars?
Step 5 - Add the remaining sugar and bring to a boil
When the grape-pectin mix has reached a full boil, add the rest of the sugar (for regular pectin; about 6 and 3/4 cups of sugar per 6 cup batch of grape juice; or 4 cups of sugar if you are using the low or no-sugar pectin) and then bring it back to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute.
Step 6 - Testing for "jell" (thickness)
I keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jelly is ready. If not, I mix in a little more pectin (about 1/4 to 1/2 of another package) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.
Step 7 - Fill the jars and put the lid and rings on
Fill them to within ¼-inch of the top, wipe any spilled jelly off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Then put them into the boiling water canner!
This is where the jar tongs come in really handy!
Step 8 - Process the jars in the boiling water bath
Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. In general, boil them for 5 minutes, which is what SureJell (the makers of the pectin) recommend. I say "in general" because you have to process (boil) them longer at higher altitudes than sea level, or if you use larger jars, or if you did not sanitize the jars and lids right before using them. The directions inside every box of pectin will tell you exactly - and see the Table below for altitude differences. The directions on the pectin tend to be pretty conservative. Note: Some people don't even boil the jars; they just ladle it hot into hot jars, put the lids and rings on and invert them, but putting the jars in the boiling water bath REALLY helps to reduce spoilage! To me, it makes little sense to put all the working into making the jelly and then not to process the jars to be sure they don't spoil!
|Table 1. Recommended process time for Grape Jelly in a boiling water canner.|
|Process Time at Altitudes of|
|Style of Pack||Jar Size||0 - 1,000 ft||1,001 - 6,000 ft||Above 6,000 ft|
Step 9 - Remove and cool the jars - Done!
Lift the jars out of the water with your jar lifter tongs and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.
Once cooled, they're ready to store. I find they last up to 12 months. But after about 6 to 8 months, they get darker in color and start to get runny. They still are safe to eat, but the flavor and texture aren't as good. So eat them in the first 6 months after you prepare them!
From left to right:
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I was reading the instructions on making grape jelly. We have a super-duper juicer that we can run the grapes through and skip the grape-food processor/ crushing steps, but is that a suitable thing to do?
A. Sure, that ought to work great!
Q. I don't have a jelly sieve, so you suggest cheesecloth (which I do have). Will the jelly come out clear using cheesecloth (even doubled up). I really don't want to use a pillow case as I've heard is the way to go. Will cheesecloth do the trick?
Yup! It just depends what you want to achieve. The finer the cloth, the more clear the final product. But that also reduces the yield, and the “cloudiness” is actually bits of fruit, which I like!
You can get all of the tools in a kit here:
Home Canning Kits
This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jellys and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars and lids (and the jars are reusable). To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!
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Canning & Preserving for Dummies
The Ball Blue Book of Preserving
This is THE book on canning! My grandmother used this book when I was a child. It tells you in simple instructions how to can almost anything; complete with recipes for jelly, jellies, pickles, sauces, canning vegetables, meats, etc. If it can be canned, this book likely tells you how! Click on the link below for more information and / or to buy (no obligation to buy)
Summary - Typical Cost of Making Homemade Grape Jelly - makes 11 to 13 jars, 8 oz each**
|Item||Quantity||Cost in 2013||Source||Subtotal|
|Grapejuice||1.5 quarts (a quart and a half)||$3.00/quart||Grocery store||$4.50|
|Canning jars (8 oz size), includes lids and rings||12 jars||$7.00/dozen||Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores||$7.00|
|Sugar||4 cups||$2.00||Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores||$2.00|
|Pectin (low sugar, dry)||1 and a third boxes *||$2.00 per box||Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores||$2.70|
or about $1.35 per jar
|* pectin use varies - blackberry
jelly needs very little, raspberry a little more, grape the most.
** - This assumes you already have the pots, pans, ladles, and reusable equipment. Note that you can reuse the jars and reduce the cost further; just buy new lids (the rings are reusable, but the flat lids are not)!
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