One of my sons is a P,B, & J hound so I’ve got to keep jam and jelly in the house. The trouble is, almost every single brand of jelly that my grocery store carries is made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I don’t like that. One local brand does use sugar instead of HFCS and there are organic options, but sheesh, it’s expensive! More than five bucks for slightly more than a cup of jam? This is why I’ve been making my own jam and jelly for years. This grape jelly recipe works with fresh grapes or, for a midwinter jelly emergency, let me let you in on a little secret.
Making jam or jelly is so easy. Truly. And get this: you don’t even need to have fresh fruit to make jelly. The freezer or juice aisle of your grocery store is your ticket to HFCS-free jelly no matter what’s in season. Look for ready-to-serve 100% juice in the drink aisle (you may have to seek out a natural food store) or a frozen concentrate (Welch’s is one brand that offers 100% juice). It may not be quite as self-sufficient of you to use store bought juice, but we’re all about small steps around here. Homemade jelly with store bought juice still eliminates icky ingredients and unnecessary shipping of disposable plastic containers.
I’ve recently discovered Pomona brand pectin (available at health food stores). I’ve been using it exclusively because it allows me to use less sugar. Use this recipe if you’re using Pomona pectin, or see the links below the photo gallery for alternative recipes.
Important: This is not scary. It took me about half an hour to make three pints of grape freezer jelly for around $10. If you’re new to this, it might take you an HOUR.
Grape Freezer Jelly Recipe
- 4 cups 100% grape juice (if you’re using frozen concentrate, reconstitute before measuring)
- 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
- 3/4 – 2 cups sugar or 1/2 – 1 cup honey
- 1 box Pomona brand pectin
- Prepare calcium water. Put 1/2 tsp calcium powder (the small package in the Pomona box) and 1/2 cup water in a small jar with a lid. Shake well before using.
- Wash and rinse jars. For freezer jelly, it’s best to use straight sided jars (such as a wide mouthed Kerr canning jar). If you plan to use the jelly quickly you can reuse any old clean glass jars and keep them in the refrigerator.
Make the Jelly:
- Measure grape juice, lemon juice, and 4 tsp of prepared calcium water into a large pot. (Save the remaining calcium water in the fridge for a future batch of jelly.)
- Measure sugar or honey into a separate bowl. Thoroughly mix in 4 tsp of powdered pectin.
- Bring fruit juice to a boil, stirring frequently. Add sugar or honey mixture and stir vigorously to dissolve the pectin. Return to a boil and then remove from heat.
- Fill jars:
- To freeze, fill the jars 3/4 full to allow room for expansion when frozen.
- If you’ll use the jelly within a month or so, you can refrigerate it. In this case, you can fill the jars to within 1/4″ of the top.
- Screw on lid and allow to cool before placing jelly in the refrigerator or freezer.
Canned Grape Jelly
Freezer jelly takes fewer steps, but if you want to make your jelly shelf stable, you’ll need to process it. Jelly has a very short processing time, though, so don’t let the idea of canning jelly put you off.
- Fill your water bath canner to a level that will cover your jars. This varies depending upon jar size. Bring to a boil. Proceed with next steps while the water is heating.
- Wash and rinse jars. Have lids and rings nearby.
- Proceed with making the jelly same as above.
- Fill jars to within 1/4″ of top. Wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Screw on 2-piece lids/rings and place in boiling water bath. Bring water back to a boil (it doesn’t need to be a hard boil) and set the timer for 10 minutes. Remove jars to a towel-covered counter top to cool.
- Check seals. Lids should be solid and pulled down tight. (if they flex and pop, the jar didn’t seal; put unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use those first).
- Remove rings and wash outsides of jars. (You don’t need to store the jars with rings.)