Kari Spencer is a Master Gardener volunteer and a local gardening and homesteading speaker.
How to Make Your Own Grape Jelly (With a Twist!)
If you love grape jelly—or even if you could take it or leave it—give this recipe a try. Not your average ho-hum partner to peanut butter, this jelly has a depth of flavor provided by a few key secret ingredients, revealed here.
Tart and sweet, your favorite purple grape juice provides a base for the recipe; there's no need to grow, peel, crush, or blanch any fruit. Choose high-quality juice. The higher the juice quality, the better the jelly flavor! I prefer an organic juice with no added sugar, but any grape juice will do.
Simple, delicious, and foolproof, this jelly is wonderful for a lazy weekend morning, and it makes a unique gift!
This recipe makes about 4 half-pint jars, or twice as many 4-ounce jelly jars. You could also pour this jelly into pretty, clear glasses sealed with household wax. Whatever containers you decide to use, be sure to sterilize them in advance in boiling water or in the dishwasher on anti-bacterial setting. Sterilize the jars, as well as the lids and rings.
- If you boil them on the stove, leave the empty jars in the hot water until you are ready to fill them so that the jars will remain hot.
- If you sterilize them in the dishwasher, use the "heated dry" setting so that the jars will stay hot.
While the jars are being sterilized, prepare your jelly.
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon dried basil (or Thai basil)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Pinch of salt
- 3 1/2 cups pure cane sugar (I prefer raw sugar)
- 3 1/2 cups purple grape juice
- 3 ounces liquid fruit pectin
- Paraffin wax (optional)
Step 1: Steep the Herbs and Spices
The flavor of basil and cardamom is delicious, but they cannot be added directly to grape jelly or the gritty, chewy pieces ruin the smooth texture. Basil and cardamom flavor can be added to your recipe indirectly by steeping them to draw out and capture their essence in a liquid form. The solid stems, leaves, and pieces can be discarded.
- Pour boiling water over basil and cardamom in a saucepan and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain the herb brew into a 4-quart saucepan through a fine strainer or a colander lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel. Discard the herbs.
- Reserve the fragrant liquid in the saucepan for use in your recipe.
Step 2: Make the Jelly
- Add grape juice and sugar to the herb water in the saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then increase the heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
- Stir in the liquid pectin and return the mixture to boiling. Boil rapidly for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and skim off the foam that will collect on top.
Note: The foam can be reduced by adding 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the saucepan prior to pouring in the pectin. Butter is completely optional and does not change the flavor or texture of the jelly.
Step 3: Fill the Jars
- Pour the jelly into hot, sterilized containers. Use a wide-mouth funnel to prevent sticky drips from running down the exterior of the jars. Seal with lids or paraffin.
- To seal with paraffin wax, allow the jelly to cool for several hours. Then melt the wax slowly over low heat. Paraffin is flammable, so keep your eyes on it at all times. When the wax is completely melted, pour 1/4 inch of the liquid wax directly on top of the jelly in each container.
Note: If jelly does not set, pour it back into the saucepan and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute before returning it to the jars.
How to Store the Jelly
Store the jelly in the refrigerator and use it within three months.
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