Easy Homemade Jelly in the Middle of Winter

Grape jelly is a snap to make -- REALLY.

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.

I know that some of you are suffering through snow flurries and blizzards right now, but what better way to spend a snow day than to whip up a batch of jelly? Making freezer 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 in the middle of winter. 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) and 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 3 pints of grape freezer jelly for around $10. If you’re new to this, it might take you an HOUR.

Grape Freezer Jelly

Ingredients:

  • 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

Prep Work:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.)
  2. Measure sugar or honey into a separate bowl. Thoroughly mix in 4 tsp of powdered pectin.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

This article has 12 comments

  1. What a great idea. I never thought of making jelly from juice!

  2. Great stuff. No need to make a thousand jars of jam or jelly. You CAN make a few even in the dead of winter. Love it.

  3. I’m wanting to substitute stevia for the sugar, would that work. Does the amount of sugar matter for setting or just for taste? Because only a few stevia packets would be necessary for the same amount of sweetness. Also i wonder if agave would work as a substitute. I use it in place of honey a lot because it’s cheaper.

    • Tara, this is why I like Pomona pectin – it allows for using a variety of sweeteners. The sugar is not necessary for the jam/jelly to set. I’ve not personally tried it with stevia, but the Pomona instructions include several alternatives.

  4. [...] homemade grape jelly, but have no access to fresh grapes? Attainable Sustainable shows you how to make homemade jelly from grocery store juice. Love it!3. And finally, Eight Acres gives us a peek into the realities of keeping a dairy cow with [...]

  5. At which point do you add the lemon juice?

  6. Great! I want to make home made jelly but I have no idea how to make one.

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