Wild Grape Jelly


Fall is the season of canning and preserving the hard work of summer just before settling in for a long winter. Wild grapes were a bonus this year. A nice change from the usual vegetables and fruits to “put up”.

These tiny tart grapes were climbing and evergreen and huge cottonwood trees just south of the farm. I’m pretty sure we weren’t the first to pick because there weren’t too many within easy reach. But, with a little climbing and getting stuck on a few branches we had picked a small bucket and home we went.

Then was the task of cleaning them. Ugh, what a purple mess! They were still pretty well stuck on the vine and there were a few spiders that made their way home as well. Spiders stop all production and empty the kitchen until someone (my husband) has taken care of the problem. After dying my fingers purple and a few evacuations a new method was used.


I prefer to not eat all the little critters that come with a wild harvest. (Dad calls it extra protein…I’m not that hungry) I soak them in vinegar and cold water for about an hour. Magical vinegar, I just love the stuff! With a few swishes of the water the dried berries and critters float to the top and can be easily removed.

Into the pot they went stems and all. No more purple fingers.  A little water to keep them from scorching and some heat to release the juice. Smashing the grapes every so often (makes them wine, hahaha. Ok, cheesy I know). After about an hour or so it’s juice time. Straining and squishing through a food mill, we were ready for jelly (or wine 🙂 .

I use a pretty basic recipe for my jelly. No need to over complicate it. Just a little pectin, sugar and butter. Yes, butter. A granny secret is to add a bit of butter to the jelly to prevent the frothy foam the usually forms on top. Then there’s no skimming to do!

This recipe can be adapted for any fruit juice.

Grape Jelly
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Grape Jelly
Print Recipe
  • 5 cup Grape Juice
  • 1 box Suregel Pectin 1 3/4 oz
  • 6 cup Sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Butter
  1. To make the grape juice: Place the wild grapes in a stock pot with about an inch of water to prevent scorching. (stems and all; just make sure they are clean of dirt, bugs and rotten grapes)
  2. Heat slowly mashing them with a potato masher. Once heated just below a simmer, remove the grapes and strain them through a food mill, squishing the rest of the juice out.
  3. To make the jelly: Place the juice and pectin in the stock pot and bring to a hard boil for 1 minute. Stir constantly
  4. Add the sugar and butter. Stirring constantly bring back to a hard boil for 1 minute.
  5. Pour into hot jelly jar. Pour canning wax on top or process in water bath
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  1. Hi Anna! I’m glad you posted this – we are going to use your techniques this fall to do some jelly. You’ll have to make a return visit to get some more grapes if you want! We have other fruit trees we’ll need to explore, but feel free to pick from any of them.