The Best Grape Jelly Recipe

Traditionally, great jelly recipes are passed down from mother to daughter and friend to friend. To start a similar tradition in your neighborhood, start with the best grape jelly recipe you can find.

Jelly is a sweet spread made from fruit juice and sugar. Because the juice is strained, jelly is clear and free from seeds or other fruit particles. Called "jewels of the pantry," jellies are considered the best of the best when it comes to home canning treasures and are often packaged as gifts for the most special of guests.

Equipment You Will Need:
Large, heavy-bottomed, non-aluminum kettle or deep copper saucepan
Jars - pints or half-pints
Lids and bands
Colander
Stirring spoon
Ladle
Canning funnel
Food processor
Potato masher
Jelly bag
Cheesecloth
Boiling water canner

Making Jelly
In order for jelly to set, it requires a specific amount of pectin. Most fruit has enough pectin in it to handle the job, but if fruit is overripe or overcooked, there is a chance it will not gel. Since unripe grapes have about ¼ more pectin in them than ripe grapes, tossing in a few of the unripe variety will help, but the best way to ensure there is enough pectin in the jelly is to use a commercially purchased fruit pectin.

Crush clean and sorted grapes in a non-aluminum kettle, one layer at a time. Mashing the grapes releases the pectin and fruit. Strain the grape juice from the grapes by lining a colander with several layers of cheesecloth. Do not force the juice though or your jelly will be cloudy.

Use a canning funnel and extreme care when ladling the hot jelly into jars. Fill the jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe the rim with a clean, wet cloth and adjust the hot lids and rings. Always sterilize jars, lids and rings and keep them hot until filled with jelly. Once you fill the jars, remember that it is imperative that the jelly be processed in a hot water bath for five to ten minutes to destroy all bacteria. Water should be at a rolling boil and the jars should be covered by one to two inches of water.

The two grape jelly recipes below are very different, but both delicious. One recipe is made without added pectin. The other recipe is made with added pectin.

Grape Jelly Recipes

Ingredients You Will Need:
5 cups prepared juice
7 cups sugar
1 packet powdered pectin

Combine fruit juice and packet of powdered pectin in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until dissolved. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, then add sugar. Stir until it reaches a boil that cannot be stirred down. Remove from heat and ladle into clean sterilized jars.

Grape Jelly Recipes: Wild Grapes

Ingredients You Will Need:
1 cup grape juice
¾ cup white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring the ingredients to a boil. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it begins to sheet off of a spoon. Jelly is done. Pour into a container and store in the refrigerator.

Grape jelly can be used in a variety of ways, including the crockpot meatball dish below.

Grape Jelly Meatballs

Ingredients You Will Need:
1 ½ cups chili sauce
1 cup grape jelly
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg, beaten
3 to 4 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
Salt to taste

Combine the first three ingredients in the crock pot and stir. Turn on high and set aside.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Shape into meatballs (makes about two dozen meatballs). Bake meatballs in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the meatballs and add them to the sauce, stirring gently to coat. Cook on low for five to eight hours.

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