I have experience making different fruit jams, but I have never made jelly. Jelly is made by cooking fruit juice with sugar whereas jam is made by cooking chopped fruit with sugar.
I recently acquired muscadines, a native American grape also known as VitisRotundifolia, from a neighbor of mine that lives down my county road. After I made my first grape wine I had a bit of muscadines left, so I decided to make my first muscadine jelly!
According to “So Easy to Preserve”, a book produced by the Cooperative Extension from the University of Georgia, jelly is dependent on a proper ratio of fruit, pectin, acid and sugar. Muscadine has natural pectin and is acidic which means that it does not require adding lemon juice to make a successful jelly. I used granulated white sugar as the sugar although I have heard others who have used brown sugar, molasses, or honey. It is important to remember to make small batches of jelly at a time because in large batches the jelly may not gel properly.
To make the muscadine jelly I washed and crushed the grapes. I added the crushed grapes to a large pot. I then simmered the grapes for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. I kept pressing the heated grapes to help extract more juice. I then let the mixture cool a bit. I poured the cooled mixture into a straining bag. I used the straining bag that I use when I make wine. If you do not have a straining bag you could use a jelly bag, unbleached muslin, cheesecloth, or a cotton cloth.
|I crushed the grapes using a potato smasher.|
|I simmered the crushed grapes to extract the juice.|
|The muscadine mixture after cooking.|
I placed the straining bag on top of an upside pot that had been placed into a larger pot. Doing this helped to elevate the straining bag so that the juice could run out. I set it inside of the fridge overnight. The next day, I squeezed out the remaining juice and placed the muscadine pulp into my compost pile.
|I placed the muscadine mixture into a straining bag.|
|I turned a pot upside down in a larger pot to set the straining bag on top of to aid in the extraction of the muscadine juice.|
|I placed a lid on top of the pot and placed into the refrigerator overnight.|
I then washed the canning jars in hot, soapy water and then rinsed the jars. I sterilized the canning jars by boiling them for 10 minutes and kept the jars in hot water until I was ready to use them. I used half-pint canning jars. I also washed and rinsed all of the canning lids and bands.
Next, I prepared the jelly by heating 4 cups of muscadine juice to boiling in a large pot because jelly has a tendency to boil over. After the juice came to a boil I added 3 cups of sugar and stirred until the sugar dissolved. I then inserted a candy thermometer to the boiling jelly because you need to boil the jelly until it reaches 220ºF.
|I added sugar to sweeten the muscadine juice to make jelly.|
|The jelly is boiling!|
|The clean and sanitized 1/2 pint canning jars.|
|Make sure to wipe the rim of the canning jar before adding the lid and band.|
It is also important that the jelly mixture sheets from a spoon. The sheet test helps in determining that the jelly is done. To do a sheet test you dip a cool metal spoon into the boiling jelly and you lift the spoon out. If the jelly slides out in one big sheet versus in drops the jelly is complete.
Once the jelly is done remove from heat and pour jelly immediately into hot canning jars while leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids and bands. Process the jars for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath. Aboiling water bath is a deep cooking pot that is deep enough for two inches of boiling water to cover the tops of the canning jars. The boiling water bath canner needs to have a lid.
|Adjusting the lid and bands to a hand tight fit; not too tight.|
Remove the jars from the water bath canner and set out on a clean dry towel. Check to make sure jars have sealed properly.