Champagne Grape Jelly

One of my mom’s goals when she is visiting us this year is to get some jelly or jam made.  We had thought we’d do plum, as my brother has some great plum trees.  She was going to pick there, do the initial process and freeze the pulp, bringing it with her when she came out.  Well, the date for picking plums got past her, and there weren’t any.  So I suggested the grapes growing at the community garden.  Anyone can take them and use them, and they are sweet and delicious, so why not?

So, on Labor Day weekend, Tater and I went over with basket and a big bowl and picked about 15 pounds of grapes.  About half were ripe, the rest not quite ripe, but that wouldn’t matter for grape jelly. Champagne grapes are small, green and have a small seed.  The skins are tough, similar to, but not as tough as, a concord grape.  They are sweet, but not overly so.

Champagne grapes from the garden

I rinsed them well, and Tater and Klown sat at the dining room table for over an hour, picking out the “raisins,” and taking off the stems.  Then I spent the next 12 hours freezing them.  I laid them out on cookie sheets and put them in the freezer until they froze as hard as marbles, then put them in containers for longer-term storage.  I only have two cookie sheets, so this took three runs in the freezer.  The grapes would freeze in about 4 hours.  Safely frozen, we could wait a couple of weeks for mom to get here and start working on them.

Finally, the day to make jelly came!  We dumped the frozen grapes into my big stock pot, added 3/4 cup of water to keep them from burning before they could thaw out, and cooked them until they were just a big pile of mush.  This took about an hour.  Once that was done, mom manned the food mill and I manned the strainer lined with the fabric from an old tshirt.  She mashed the grapes through the food mill, and then I poured the juice through the t-shirt, squeezing it through.  I found the food mill, which looks brand new, at the local Restore for $8, a steal!  It is an Osco brand, and very sturdy.  The juice was hot, but that’s the best time to be straining, so I just kept working with it.

Food Mill

When we got done, we had a wonderful grape skin and seed mush that looked like this.

Skins and seeds

Nasty looking, but smelled amazing. :)  This all went into our compost pile.  From the 15 pounds of grapes, we got 18 cups of juice that we strained twice to get as clear as possible.  A basic recipe we found called for 3/4 cup of white sugar for each cup of juice, and we went with that. While we waited for it to boil, I washed the jars and we sterilized the lids.

Clean jars, ready for jelly!


We started with 8 cups of juice, and cooked it and cooked it and cooked it.  The foam was green, which was a bit concerning.  Something that looked this bad, even though it would taste good, would still be bad.  Fortunately, as it cooked, it turned a beautiful amber, and the foam turned pink and brown.  We were relieved.

Foam from cooking

The first batch got overcooked.  We hadn’t done this in a while, so stopping at the right point didn’t exactly happen.  The first 10 4 oz. jars are going to end up being like candy instead of jelly.  But the second batch, made with 10 cups of juice, came out perfectly.  Why?  Because I got out the candy thermometer and used it judge when the juice was done.  From that batch we got 8 half-pints of beautiful, amber jelly.  You can see the overcooked jelly in the back, in the smaller jars.

Finished jelly


We sealed them using a newer method.  Pour in the hot juice, wipe the rim clean with a wet cloth, put on the lid and ring, and tighten.  Turn the jar over and let sit until cool.  They turned out very pretty, and what little bit we’ve eaten has tasted amazing!  The rich grape flavor comes through.  It is slightly tart, but plenty sweet.

Champagne Grape Jelly

10 cups juice from fresh/frozen grapes (80 oz.)

7 1/2 c. sugar

Yield: 8 half pints (64 oz.)

Lots of work, but a beautiful result.


3 Responses to “Champagne Grape Jelly”

  1. jilly-bear says on :

    Don’t you have to put them at least in a hot water bath to seal properly? That’s what I do when I make apple butter.

  2. Momilies says on :

    No, no need for the water bath if you do it right. The jelly is VERY hot when it goes in the jars, and gets sealed and turned upside down immediately. Because of the high sugar content, this works fine. It will also work with apple butter. It won’t work with veggies or soups or things like that, it is strictly for jellies.

  3. Tina says on :

    What is the temperature that the jelly needs to be at in order for it to be done and not runny. About how long does the actual cooking process take? If I don’t have a food mill, what else can be used in its place?