Wild Grape Jelly: Practicing an important homesteading survival skill

When it comes to Practicing Survival Skills – I’d much rather be out in the field making a sling shot or shooting my 10/22 or chopping fire wood, actually probably doing anything else besides inside at the kitchen counter trying to figure out how to make jelly.  But, that’s what learning is all about – sometimes you need to take the time to learn skills that might not be your favorites yet are still important.  I believe that canning is an important survival skill.  When it comes to getting started in canning, it doesn’t get much easier than making jelly.

Wild Grape Harvest

At least here in Indiana, Wild Grapes are in season.  They like the sun and thrive along tree lines and old fence rows.  I found these along a southward facing treeline near an old grown up field.

Don’t confuse Wild Grapes with the huge super sweet ones you buy at the grocery.  They are small and can sometimes be pretty acidic rather than sweet.  However, the flavor is very raw and rich – like most wild things.  There are many berries (some poisonous) in season at the same time as Wild Grapes.  Be sure to to 100% positive ID the grape vine.  Wild grapes should have leaves that look like the one below and the vines will also have grabby winding tendrils like below as well.  If in DOUBT, leave it OUT.  There are several grape vine look-a-likes – like MOONSEED – which has a similar leaf and similar looking berries.  Here is a very well written article that out-lines several differences.  Take a minute to read it if you are going to go Wild Grape Hunting: http://www.nativeorchid.org/news201012.htm

Check out the photo below of 3 berries in the same spot when I was harvesting grapes (1 is wild grape and the other 2 are unknown).  This just shows that you need to be careful.

I only spent about 30 mins. gathering these grapes and brought home quite the bounty.

Now for this Wild Grape Jelly Thing

Below is the simplest recipe/instructions I could find:

3 lbs wild grapes, stemmed

3 cups water

4 1/2 cups sugar

1 (85 ml) package liquid pectin

Directions:

  1. In large saucepan, crush grapes with potato masher; pour in water and bring to boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until fruit is very soft.
  3. Transfer to jelly bag or colander lined with a double thickness of fine cheesecloth and let drip overnight.
  4. Measure juice (you should have 3 cups/750 ml) into a large heavy saucepan; stir in sugar.
  5. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
  6. Stir in pectin.
  7. Return to full boil and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.
  8. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.
  9. Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/8 inch headspace.

Recipe compliments of http://www.food.com/recipe/wild-grape-jelly-72585

I’m not a very patient (or detail oriented) person, so I made a few modifications.  Here’s exactly what I did.

First, I put 3 cups of water in a large pot.  It didn’t seem like much water so I added a little more :)  Then, I filled the rest of the pot with grapes – stem and all.  I have no idea if this was 3 pounds.

I turned the stove on HIGH until the water started boiling and then I cut the heat down and let it simmer for the suggested 10 minutes.  The whole time, though, I used a big spoon to crush the grapes.  I skipped the pre-crushing stage and decided to combine it with this one.

The water quickly turned a deep purple.  After the 10 minutes I dumped the mixture into a colander over another large pot.  There was no way I was going to let this drip overnight so I helped it out by smashing it with the spoon some more.

This process yielded about 6 cups of deep purple grape stock.  The recipe calls for 3 cups for I measured out 3 cups and poured them back into the original pot and added the 4 1/2 cups of sugar and brought it to a rolling boil.  WARNING:  This stuff really froths up and wants to boil over so watch it closely.  I turned away for just a few seconds and it started boiling over – a big mess.

Once this started boiling I added in the PECTIN and boiled like the recipe says for 1 minute.  PECTIN can be found in the CANNING section at the grocery store.

I then took the pot off the heat and let it set for a few seconds.  A frothy skim formed on the top of the mixture so I skimmed that off with a spoon and then just poured the stuff into my canning jars.  It was very easy.  I put the jars into the fridge and the next morning the jelly had set up absolutely perfect.

So, I fixed breakfast and relished in the fruits (or jelly rather) of my labor.

Do you want to try some?  No problem!  Register for a Survival Class at Willow Haven this fall and I’ll save some for you.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

Comments

  1. Howard says:

    Great post, now i have to find some wild grapes

  2. Mary Blandford says:

    I went grape picking this week. I usually go to older farmers who still have vines, but don’t like to make jelly anymore. There aren’t as many this year, but are dead ripe right now. However, I am making WINE with them. I only use sugar & grapes. I have 2 antique wine presses, & one grape “splitter” for my old fashioned way of doing things. The first batch should be done by Thanksgiving.
    Thanks again for coming out to LemonLake in Cedr Lake for our Prepper meeting. It was the most interesting meeting so far.

  3. Robyn says:

    The reason it was so easy is you didn’t do the canning part. If you want to keep it in the fridge, what you did was fine. But actual canning requires either a water bath or pressure canner, depending on what you’re preserving. Canning requires special recipes that are follwed precisely so that botulism can be avoided. Please make sure your jam stays refrigerated for safety. Looks tasty though! :)

    • Tony says:

      I found it to still be an easy recipe to make some great jelly. I followed the recipe then did a water bath for 10 minutes.

  4. Hecate says:

    If you add a teaspoon of unsalted butter to your mixture while it’s cooking the wont be any froth/scum on the jam.

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  6. Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post!

    It’s the little changes that make the most significant
    changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  7. La Strega says:

    I grew up picking wild grapes and making jelly and wine. I've come full circle and this year, living in the house I grew up in 60 years ago, my husband and I took the Golf and we picked the wild grapes I remember as part of my childhood. We made grape jelly and everyone raves about it.

  8. Rachel Mark Lanczynski says:

    Foraged plenty of grapes for jelly, they're really nice this year

  9. Rachel Mark Lanczynski says:

    Tastes like grape Jolly Ranchers

  10. John Furnier says:

    Wild grapes Rachel? There are piles behind the house and they are a larger diameter than normal.

  11. not on facebook much but I do have the wild grapes in my back ;yard. Have some and am ready to make the jelly. Will let you know if I liked it and how it turned out. Don't like her recipe with stems and all there are some spiders and webs in with the grapes. I don't use these grapes when I even pick them off the stem. Oh, well to each his own.

  12. Alecia Butler says:

    Turned out good… I used about 2-3 lbs grapes, 3 cups water and 4 cups sugar. It made just shy of 3 pints. Tasted it and it tastes great! Gonna do a few more batches.

  13. Alecia Butler says:

    I did mine with stems and all and just picked out the yucky or not ripe ones and washed them off before hand. Worked well. I don't have enough patience to pick each grape off.

  14. Monica says:

    Just had two trees decide it was time to fall into my road and there were so many wild grapes on the tops. I was excited as this is our first year at our new home on 110 acres and now I can make jelly like my Grandma has all these years with us girls. One thing you need to remember is wash wash wash before cooking these. That brown colored scum in your picture is the nasties that came off while cooking. Skim it. I put these in a large pot filled with water about an inch above the de-vined grapes and use a large spoon or my hands to lift them gently from the bottom. After each time the green or dry fruit and all the yuckys would come to the top and I would just skim it off with my hands or the large slotted spoon. I found the not ripe or the dried out ones would float quite easily. dump into a colander and do it again about three times at least. Otherwise you are eating lots of little bitty spider parts and whatever else is stuck to them. Protien. After done rinsing I filled them just to the top with water and boiled for a while. let it cool and then squish the juice out with cheesecloth, gloves and a strainer over the pot. I got probably about 6 cups or more out of a filled 3 qt sauce pan of de-vined grapes. Gonna make jelley today as I have been busy in the valley with the greenhouses we are building. The juice is such a beautiful color my daughter wanted to die her hair with it. LOL

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