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Notes on canning & preserving grapes

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  • Thu, Sep 22, 2016 - 02:38am


    Wendy S. Delmater

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    Notes on canning & preserving grapes

We have two types of grapes on our property: muscadines, also known as scuppernogs, and wild concord grapes. The muscadines mature at the end of August here in USDA Zone 8. The concords will mature at the end of September or in October but I will use my notes from last year. 

Muscadines are not like your supermarket table grapes in a number of surprising ways. First of all, they do not really come in bunches like the grapes you may be used to. They sort of grow in clusters, like this:

The second difference is that they are FULL of seeds. I mean, in many cases half the interior of the grapes is seeds! And the seeds are hard to take out; the interior of the fruit is slippery and the seeds are firmly anchored. PLUS, the skins are tough. But that’s okay. Once you run them through a foley, you can get rid of the seeds and skin. 

Here is my foley, and a jar each of Strawberry-Muscadine and Blueberry-Muscadine jam:

Yes, I added other fruit. I think muscadines have a musty taste and a pretty awful color on their own (brownish), and they do not have enough pectin unless you add some. That being said, they are prolific and hard to kill so I love them anyhow. 

FYI we learned this year that blueberry plus muscadine tastes just like concord grapes! 

Here are a few other things we have learned over the years. 

  • We prefer to run muscadine grapes through the juicer before cooking, not afterward. It makes it easier to pull out some of the skins. And you want to do that, because…
  • You can increase your yield by using some of the skins. Save some muscadine grape skins after you crush them and run them through a food processor to make a sort of slurry to add to the juice, to make your jam. You cannot just cook them. The texture is fine if you grind them up but leathery if you put them in whole. 
  • Concord grapes do not need added pectin. And we find cooking them before running them through the foley is easier. 
  • Muscadines without added pectin, or other high-pectin fruits, will never be more than syrup in consistency. But that means if you cooked a batch of something else and it was too thick (in our case a strawberry jam that was almost hard candy), you can mix that in and reprocess and get a good jam thickness. 
  • Neither of these grapes makes good dehydrated raisins. God knows, I tried. 

FYI we have wild concord grapes on our back fence which look like this when ripe:

Here is a good recipe for wild concord grape jelly.

First, make grape juice. You need to wash the grapes and pick off any stems.  Put them in a large stock pot and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for about half hour. Once they start to soften, mash them with a potato masher. After 30-45 minutes, pour them into a colander lined with cheesecloth to drain in the fridge overnight. (Instead of cheesecloth you can use a clean pillowcase). 
16 cups of grapes cooked in 8 cups of water yields about 5 cups of juice.
To can the jelly:
5 c. prepared wild grape juice
3 cups plus 1/4 cup sugar
1 box of sure-gel low sugar pectin
Prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids. Whisk together pectin and 1/4 cup sugar. In your stock pot, whisk together the grape juice and the pectin/sugar mixture. Cook on high heat until the grape juice comes to a rolling boil, then stir in the rest of the sugar and bring the jelly back to a full boil. Stay with it, stirring so it will not stick, and boil it hard for 1 minute.
Ladle hot jelly into hot jars leaving 1/4″ of head space. Wipe rims and clean boiled lids (I heat and sanitize the jars and lids in the waiting canner), then process in waiting boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. Let cool overnight, and check seals. Reprocess any with bad seals, or refrigerate and use those jars, if any lid fails to snick down. 




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