Canning and Preserves

Muscadine Jelly

Muscadine Jelly

Muscadine Jelly

Muscadine or Scuppernong Grapes – 5 lbs of fresh muscadines or scuppernongs, preferably fresh.

Pectin – 1 package (box usually) (no sugar added).

Sugar – Rule of thumb after extracting juice from grapes, measure juice in cups.  If you have 4 cups of juice, use 6 cups of sugar, 5 cups juice use 7 cups of sugar.  Always increase your sugar by 2 cups.

Other items you will need:

  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)- Big box stores and grocery stores sometimes carry them; and it is available online – see this page. It’s a tremendously useful to put jars in the canner and take the hot jars out (without scalding yourself!).
  • 1 large pot; I prefer 16 to 20 quart Teflon lined pots for easy cleanup.
  • Jelly strainer – see step 6 – or a colander and cheesecloth.
  • 1 Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.).
  • Ball jars (jelly jars)
  • Lids – thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar. They may only be used once.
  • Rings – metal bands that secure the lids to the jars. They may be reused many times.

    Muscadine or Scuppernong Jelly-making Directions

    This example shows you how to make either muscadine or scuppernong jelly. (What is a muscadine?  It’s a large type of grape, with large seeds and a stronger flavor.  They’re more common in the deep South), You can use this recipe to make almost any type of jelly from the fruit juice; where there is a difference, I will point it out! The yield from this recipe is about 12 eight-ounce jars (which is the same as 6 pints).

    Step 1 – Pick the muscadines! (or buy them already picked)

    It’s fun to go pick your own and you can obviously get better quality ones!

    I prefer to grow my own; which is really easy – but that does take some space and time. Select grapes that are in the just ripe stage.

    As mentioned in the Ingredients section; you may use either 4 lbs of fresh muscadines or 5 cups of grape juice (either bottled or reconstituted from frozen concentrate) without added sugar.  Using grape juice is especially useful if you want to make some grape jelly in December to give away at Christmas!

    Step 2 – How much fruit?

    Muscadine or Scuppernong jelly can ONLY be made in rather small batches – about 6 cups at a time – like the directions on the pectin say, DO NOT increase the recipes or the grape jelly won’t “set” (jell, thicken). It takes about 5 lbs of raw, unprepared grapes per batch.

    Step 3 – Wash the jars and lids

    Now’s a good time to get the jars ready, so you won’t be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a “sanitize” cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don’t have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.

    NOTE: If unsanitized jars are used, the product should be processed for 5 more minutes. However, since this additional processing can result in a poor set (runny jelly), it’s better to sanitize the jars.

    Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that’s what the manufacturer’s recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic “lid lifter wand” to pull them out.

    Leave the jars in the dishwasher on “heated dry” until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot jelly.

    Step 4 -Wash the muscadines!

    I’m sure you can figure out how to wash the muscadines in plain cold water.

    Pick out any stems and leaves that became mixed in!

    Step 5 – Crush the muscadines

    Then you just mush them up.  A potato masher is useful to help crush them. Even easier is to use a food processor, with the slicing blade and short pulses. (you don’t want to chop up the seeds!)

    Either way, to make jelly, we’ll need to crush them well so we can extract the juice. You’ll need about 6 cups of juice.

    Step 6 – Measure out the sugar

    Check the directions with the pectin; typically, with regular pectin, it is 7 cups of sugar to 5 cups of grape juice and one box of pectin. If you use the low-sugar or no sugar pectin, you can reduce or eliminate sugar.  Personally, I find that using about 4 cups of sugar with the no-sugar pectin works best for flavor, calorie reduction and appearance. The precise measurements are found in each and every box of pectin sold. Remove 1/4 cup of sugar from this and mix the dry pectin with it; Keep this separate from the rest of the sugar. If you are not using sugar, you’ll just have to stir more vigorously to prevent the pectin from clumping.

    Step 7 – Heat the crushed muscadines on the stove

    We just want to bring the muscadines to a boil to help release the juice and break down some of the fruit to help it pass through our jelly strainer. Put the crushed muscadines in a big pot on the stove over medium to high heat (stir often enough to prevent burning) for until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

    Step 8 – Sieve the cooked muscadines

    You can either put the soft cooked muscadines through a jelly strainer (about $9.00, see ordering at right) which results in the most clear jelly and is easiest to use, or pour them through cheesecloth in a colander. Or if you don’t mind chunky jelly, just let the juice stand for 20 minutes, and Decant (pour off) the clear liquid to use and leave the solids behind.

    You may also want to run the crushed cooked muscadines through a Foley food mill  BEFORE the jelly strainer – it helps to extract more juice and jet out the large skins that will clog the strainer.

    If you need a stopping point and want to finish up the next day, this is a good place. Sometimes, jelly gets crystals, called tartrate crystals, forming in the jelly.  They’re not harmful and don’t affect the taste, but some people don’t like the appearance.  If so, pour the cool juice into glass containers and set in refrigerator. The next day strain the juice through the cloth jelly bag. Do not squeeze the bag.

    Step 9 – Add the pectin to the hot strained juice and bring to a full boil

    Stir the pectin (with 1/4 cup sugar) mix into the grape juice and put that in a big pot on the stove over medium to high heat (stir often enough to prevent burning). It should take about 5 to 10 minutes to get it to a full boil (the kind that cannot be stirred away).

    Notes about pectin: I usually add about 25% – 30% more pectin (just open another pack and add a little) or else the jelly is runnier than I like. With a little practice, you’ll find out exactly how much pectin to get the thickness you like.

    Another tip: use the low sugar pectin. It cuts the amount of sugar you need from 7 cups per batch to 4 cups! And it tastes even better! On the other hand; I have never had success using no sugar at all; even with the No-sugar-needed pectin. It  always turned out runny and bland. You might want to try using the low sugar recipe with a mixture of sugar and Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda); that could work.

    Is your jelly too runny? Pectin enables you to turn out perfectly set jelly every time. Made from natural apples, there are also natural no-sugar pectins that allow you to reduce the sugar you add by half or even eliminate sugar.!
    Get them all here at the best prices on the internet!


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