Monday, January 4, 2010

Jelly Jelly Bo Belly

While the normal order of things is to make jelly before Christmas, our schedule scoffed at the notion. We used the quiet weekend after Christmas to sneak in a bit of jelly making before Santa managed to deliver his final presents to all the girls n boys. We harvested our own grape juice earlier this summer, arduously hand processing it before a kind reader pointed out we were doing it the hard way. Presto-changeo we switched to an inexpensive steam juicer and the next thing we knew we'd put away over 30 quarts of the purple stuff.

Apparently canning grape juice prior to making jelly is a good thing, as it allows you to remove any crystals that may form and mar your jelly. No crystals formed in our juice, but better safe than sorry I guess. We followed the Old Fashioned juice recipe from my Kerr canning book. 4 Cups of Juice, 3 cups of sugar, boil boil boil for 25 minutes or until gel stage is hit. I picked this recipe because it had the greatest juice-to-sugar ratio and didn't use added pectin, just the natural pectin in the juice itself. Challenge: gel stage was pretty tough to judge. It wasn't a temperature per se as a state of being. The goal was to have jelly "sheeting off a cold spoon" or if you put a teaspoon of jelly on a jar lid in the freezer for 1 minute it was supposed to be fully set and wrinkle when you pushed on the edge.
Bubble bubble, toil and trouble

Bad news: this method led to a slightly candied jelly with a ribbony consistency. Maybe next time we'll have to try the pectin method. Luckily, there's more juice (har har).

Newspaper stops the stickiness

Good news: amazing on shortbread. I used Martha's basic shortbread recipe. This is a very reliable shortbread recipe - I have made the green tea variation many times for presents.

Wish us luck on round 2!



  1. I imagine these would go great on thumbprint cookies as well. Awesome job!

    Since you're using homegrown grapes, I would like you to enter this post in our Grow Your Own roundup this month. Full details at

  2. Fabuloso! Even if the consistency isn't perfect, it's great on sandwiches. If you need to dispose of any imperfect batches, I'll be more than happy to take them off your hands! Grape jelly and cheddar go strangely marvelous together in a grilled cheese sammich!

  3. Yum yum! I, too, made gobs of grape juice in the fall. Mine is tucked away in jars in the freezer. I ought to give your jelly a try. Thanks for the inspiration.