When you learn how to make jelly at home — this quick grape jelly recipe can be canned or used to make freezer jelly — you’ll save yourself some serious cash, not to mention eliminate some less than ideal ingredients.
Have you looked at the price of store bought jelly lately? It’s expensive! If you use a lot of jelly (hello, PB&J!), the high cost of jelly can add up.
Plus? You can use better ingredients when you make your own grape jelly. 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 there again, 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.
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Quick grape jelly recipe
This homemade grape jelly recipe works with freshly-juiced grapes or, for a midwinter jelly emergency, let me let you in on a little secret. You don’t HAVE to have fresh grapes on hand.
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Grape juice – Use freshly juiced grapes (see below for how to do it) or for a quicker jelly, you can use bottled 100% grape juice. 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).
Sweetener – I used sugar for this recipe, but you can opt to use honey as well. When I use sugar, The quantities differ a bit, so be sure to check the notes in the recipe card below.
Acidifier – You can use lemon or lime juice in this recipe. The addition of an acidic ingredient like this assures that the pH level is safe for canning. USDA preserving recipes all call for using bottled juice. This assures that the acidity level in recipes is safe for canning.
If you really want to use fresh lemon juice (I get it!) you’ll need to pull out your pH paper to test the acidity of those lemons. In order to properly acidify canned goods, the pH of the lemon juice should be at least 4.5. Do not use Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and an orange, for this, as their acidity is too low.
There’s a great discussion about using bottled vs. fresh lemon juice for canning here.
Pectin – This recipe is made using Pomona’s Universal Pectin. This is the only pectin I use anymore as it allows me to use much less sweetener. The standard pectin brands use an obscene amount of sugar in my opinion, often requiring equal amounts of sugar and fruit!
What kind of grapes are best?
I have a particular fondness for Concord grape jelly, but this recipe works with whatever kind of grapes (or grape juice) you have available to you. You can use purple or white grape juice — it will all taste great! If you’re growing grapes at home, use those!
How to make grape juice
If you’re starting with fresh grapes, start by cleaning them. Grapes fresh off the vine tend to be dusty. The easiest way to do this is to fill your sink with water and put the grapes in for a soak.
- Use your hands to carefully remove the grapes from the stems, swishing them around in water as you do.
- Discard any dried up grapes or those that are not yet ripe.
- Place washed grapes in a large stockpot.
- Use a potato masher to crush the grapes, then heat the grapes over medium heat until the juice begins to simmer. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring and mashing the grapes every 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Place a large, fine-mesh sieve or strainer so that it’s suspended over a large bowl or second stockpot. You could also line a regular colander with a couple layers of cheesecloth. Alternatively, spoon the pulp into a jelly bag and suspend the bag over a bowl to catch the juice.
- Spoon the cooked grapes and their juice into the sieve. Cover loosely with a cloth and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. As the grapes sit, the juice will drain through the sieve into the bowl, leaving behind the grape pulp. If you’re using seedless grapes, that pulp can be added to smoothies! Otherwise, compost it.
How to make jelly with less sugar
I’ve been using Pomona brand pectin (available at health food stores) exclusively because it allows me to use less sugar. Learning how to make grape jelly (or other jams and jellies) with Pomona pectin means you can ditch the guilt about serving over-sweetened spreads to your family.
Using Pomona brand pectin requires mixing a batch of calcium water. There will be more than you need for this grape jelly recipe; just keep the excess in your refrigerator for the next time you make jelly. Because c’mon – now that you know how to make grape jelly, you’ll want to try your hand at making Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) Jelly, right?
How to can jelly
Preserving grape jelly for a shelf-stable product requires a water bath canner. (More about canning equipment here.) Once you’ve cooked the juice and added sugar and pectin, transfer the mixture to canning jars, leaving a quarter-inch headspace. Top with a flat lid and canning ring, then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Follow the detailed instructions in the recipe card below.
🍅 Safety First!
Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. The recipes on this site have been made following safe canning procedures by a certified Master Food Preserver.
- Know the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning. Low acid items must be pressure canned for safety.
- Altering ingredients may change the recipe’s pH, posing a safety issue. I highly recommend investing in pH paper to test your products for acidity level when canning. Note: The Hawaii Master Food Preservers suggest a pH of 4.2 or lower in the tropics. In other regions, the recommended pH is 4.6 or lower.
- Use the proper jars and lids. Never reuse lids, with the exception of the Tattler or Harvest Right hard plastic lids that are intended for such a purpose.
- For more on canning equipment, please go here.
How to freeze grape jelly
Use straight-sided canning jars for freezer jelly and only fill the jars 3/4 full. This prevents breakage. For more information about freezing in canning jars, go here.
Homemade grape jelly is easy!
Making jam or jelly is so easy. It took me less than an hour to make three pints of jelly for around $10. If you’re new to this, it might take you an HOUR.
Spread this grape jelly in PB&J sandwiches, on homemade English muffins (leave out the herbs!) or this family favorite sweet cornbread recipe. Or for a fun summertime drink, use it in a glass of jam seltzer!
★ Did you make this quick grape jelly recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
- 4 cups grape juice, (if you're using frozen concentrate, reconstitute before measuring)
- 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
- 3/4-2 cups granulated organic cane sugar (or 1/2-1 cup honey)
- 4 teaspoons calcium water (from Pomona's pectin box)
- 4 teaspoons pectin (from Pomona's pectin box)
PREP FOR CANNING
- Fill a canning pot with water, set the lid in place, and heat on high heat until boiling. It can take awhile for the water to come to a boil, so get it started before you begin making the jam.
- Gather the jars you'll use, making sure each is clean and free of nicks in the rim, which could impede sealing.
- Bring a small pot of water to a simmer and turn off the heat. Drop the rings and lids into the water and leave them there until you're ready to screw them onto the filled jars.
MAKE THE CALCIUM WATER
- Combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (from the small packet in the box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small jar.
- Screw on a lit and shake until well-combined. You'll have more than you need for this recipe.
- Store the excess in the refrigerator for use in making additional jam or jelly recipes.
MAKE THE GRAPE JELLY
- Measure the grape juice, lemon juice, and 4 teaspoons of prepared calcium water into a large saucepan; bring to a full rolling boil. (Save the remaining calcium water in the fridge for a future batch of jelly.)
- Meanwhile, combine the sweetener with the pectin until it's thoroughly combined.
- When the grape mixture comes to a boil, stir in the pectin and sweetener, stirring vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while bringing the jelly back to a boil. You can use your immersion blender to do this, if you have one. Otherwise, whisk vigorously.
- Remove from heat when the jelly boils.
CANNING THE JAM
- Ladle hot jam into quarter-pint, half-pint, or pint sized jars, leaving 1/4" head space. A canning funnel makes this easy.
- Wipe jar rims to remove any jam that may have spilled. A clean rim is essential to a good seal.
- Set jar lids in place. Screw bands on finger tight.
- Use a jar lifter to gently place jars into hot water in a canning pot equipped with a rack. Water should cover the top of the jars by an inch. The water will cool somewhat in reaction to the addition of the jars. Return the water to a simmer and then set the timer.
- Process for 10 minutes 0-1,000 feet altitude; add an additional minute for every additional 1,000 feet in elevation.
- Remove jars from water using the jar lifter and transfer to a solid, towel-covered surface. Allow to cool for 24 hours.
- 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. Store in a cool, dry place.
FOR REFRIGERATOR OR FREEZER JELLY
- If you'll use the jelly within a month or so, you can just refrigerate it. In this case, you can fill the jars to within 1/4" of the top.
- To freeze, use straight-sided jars and only fill them 3/4 full to allow room for expansion when frozen.
- Screw on lid and allow to cool before placing jelly in the refrigerator or freezer.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 68Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 7mgCarbohydrates: 17gSugar: 14g