Dark, sweet, and tart, with a flavor like the soul of a grape. A simple wild grape jelly recipe is the perfect thing to make with wild grape juice if you're new to foraging, or if you just have a grape vine on your property. It's easy to make, but there's a couple thing to know and a few decisions to consider before giving it a shot. Read on and I'll explain.
How to Make Jelly from Wild Grapes
The first thing to do is harvest grapes when they're ripe, typically around Sept for me in Minnesota. I'm harvesting Vitis riparia, or wild river grapes, but you can use this recipe with any wild grape juice. Summer grapes (Vitis aestivalis), Fox Grapes and Oregon Grapes are other wild varieties that could also be used.
Harvest and Juice the Grapes
Make the Jelly
Other Things to Make with Wild Grapes
- Naturally Pickled Grape Leaves (Lacto-Fermented)
- Vegetarian Grape Leaf Rolls (Dolmas or Dolmades)
- Homemade Saba (Grape Juice Reduction)
Homemade Wild Grape Jelly
- Heavy bottomed sauce pot (1 gallon capacity)
- Potato masher
- Canning jars with lids
- 32 oz (4 cups) wild grape juice (you’ll need about 5 lbs of grapes)
- 1 cup water
- 4 teaspoons powdered pectin see note
- 28 oz (4 cups) sugar
Harvest the grapes
- Remove the grapes from the vine in whole clusters using a scissors.
Juice the Grapes
- Put the grapes in a large pot and mash them.
- Add the water so the grapes are barely covered. Then heat them until the pot is steaming and hot, cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
- Strain the grape juice while still warm through cheesecloth, squeezing out the excess. Save scrap for making turbo wild grape vinegar.
Make the Jelly
- Put small metal bowl in the freezer for a set test. Mash the grapes as well as you can in a deep pot, do this in an area you won’t worry about splashing.
- Mix the pectin and sugar. Whisk the grape juice and sugar mixture, bring to a rolling boil, then turn the heat down to medium. Cook until it reaches at least 220F, skimming off any foam.
- Here’s where the intuition comes in. Spoon a ½ teaspoon of jelly into the chilled metal bowl to test the set, if it holds it’s shape around the edge, it’s ready, if not, continue cooking a bit.
- The sweet spot for me is usually right after the jelly hits about 220-225F. When in doubt, cook the jelly to 125 F and don't worry about the set tests too much.
- Pour the jelly into sterilized pint or half pint jars screw on the lids. Process the jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Sometimes I don't waterbath can them as they're high in acid and very safe.