Many of you know I love to cook, but alas I am horrific at following instructions (this is why I do not work in the corporate world, it’s a life long affliction). Well, I found myself at an impasse the other day with my desire to make and can homemade grape jelly vs. following the canning instructions.
I read several blogs, recipes, help books, canning and homesteading websites…..and they all said the same thing: Find a great recipe and preserve it properly through canning. Don’t interchange liquid pectin and powdered pectin because they take very different amounts of sugar. Liquid pectin takes double the amount of sugar as powder. Also, don’t set hot jars directly on the canning pot or the counter top surface as they may break or crack.
I thought this was all very interesting and a bit overwhelming. Then I remembered my Mom used to can everything from our garden from potatoes to spaghetti sauce from apples to homemade bisquick. We had a pantry full of homemade canned goods. Then my purpose became two-fold, not only to learn the canning, but to know that my Mother would have been very proud of me taking this on, learning it and then eventually teaching it to the twins.
So, I had some liquid pectin and no sugar added grape juice in the pantry and I thought I’d go for it. I threw out a plea on Facebook for someone to let me buy, borrow or steal their canning equipment and my good friend Crystal not only allowed me to borrow hers for the weekend, but gave me a few tips and trick here and there.
So here are our results:
Homemade Grape Jelly
4 cups grape juice (No Sugar Added)
7 cups sugar
1 pouch Certo Liquid Pectin
12 12 oz Jelly Jars, lids and seals
Canning tools: water bath canner, jar grabber, magnetic hand tools, ladle, funnel, labels, permanent marker
Bring boiling water canner, half full with water to a low boil. Wash all the jars and lids in warm soapy water and rinse. Put the lids in a pan of warm water, but do not boil as boiling may cause them not to seal latter. Only keep them warm enough to not be able to touch. Put the washed jars inside the canner and let them sit in the hot water until ready for use.
In a stockpot measure the 4 cups of no sugar added grape juice, then add the 7 cups of sugar. With a wire wisk, slowly and continually stir until it comes to a full rolling boil (this is a boil that won’t stop bubbling even when being stirred.) The reason to keep stirring is so that the sugar doesn’t burn and scorch the bottom – ruining the batch. At this time as an optional step you may add 1 tsp of butter, this helps reduce the foam to little, if any and removes the need to skim later.
Once it is at a rolling boil stir in the 1 package of liquid pectin. Return to a full boil for 1 minute and 30 seconds exactly. Remove from heat. If you have not added margarine, skim any foam off the top with a metal spoon.
Remove the heated jars from the water bath placing them on a towel or wooden surface, ensuring you’ve drained the water from them. Use the funnel to ladle the grape mixture into the jars. This needs to be done somewhat quickly as it will begin to set. Fill the jars 1/8 from the top and wipe the tops and rims with a warm wash rag to ensure a clean seal. Using the magnetic hand tool – put a flat lid on each one. Then only finger tight screw a band on each jar. Place jars back in the water bath carefully as not to drop them. The water should be over them 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Return the water to a gentle boil; boil for 7 minutes. You may need to check an Altitude Chart if you are above 1,000 ft in altitude for proper cooking time.
Remove the jars from the water bath, and set on a towel to cool completely. After a few hours, don’t forget to label the jars with the product as well as the date. Let the jars stand at room temperature for 24 hours. As they set you will begin to hear popping noises, this is the jars sealing. After 24 hours you can move them to a cook dark place for storage up to 1 year.
We made a double batch which yields 12 jars (and a 1/2 which we threw in the fridge) and all of them sealed nicely, right away in fact. My only regret is the batch is super sweet, the hubs says it tastes like those tiny jelly packets you get at the restaurant when you order toast. The girls said they loved it. Next time I will use the No Sugar powder pectin and see how that tastes. I’m ready to make more types of jelly and also ready to try to preserve homemade spaghetti sauce.
Hope you try canning – it’s really worth it to know what’s in your food.