Muscadine Grape Jelly


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, cooking and grilling, preserving, jelly, muscadine grape jelly

Summertime around here means a generous crop of Muscadine grapes, and even though they’re not my favorite eating grape (the skins are about as tough as they can be), the jelly they make is terrific.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, cooking and grilling, preserving, jelly, muscadine grape jelly

This time of year also brings back wonderful memories of canning and preserving with my terrific mother, A.K.A. my favorite kitchen pal. Now, at 88, the work is harder for her, but her spirit remains the same, so having her along made our little picking expedition that much more fun. Interestingly, she wasn’t so interested joining me for the actual canning part… she’s done her time, I guess.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, cooking and grilling, preserving, jelly, muscadine grape jelly

The muscadine grape is is rich in polyphenols and other nutrients known for their health benefits. They grow wild down here in the southeast, or can fairly easily be grown in the garden.  In the wild, they’re great for wildlife habitat in that they provide great cover, browse for the deer, and now that we have baby raccoons in our home, we know they are a great fruit for a variety of animals.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, cooking and grilling, preserving, jelly, muscadine grape jelly

Of most interest to most folks:  wine and jelly. We’ll work on the jelly now…

By the way, this recipe works well for other types of fruit jelly: grape, raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, dewberry, gooseberry, loganberry, tayberry, marionberry, youngberry, etc.; by themselves or mixed berry jelly.

1.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Muscadine or Scuppernong Grapes – 5 lbs of fresh muscadines or scuppernongs.
  • Pectin (it’s natural, made from apples and available at any grocery store. Go for the low-sugar pectin (not the no-sugar!)
  • Sugar – About 4.5 cups of dry, granulated (table) sugar.
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)-
  • Jelly strainer -or a colander and cheesecloth.
  • 1 Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling)
  • Ball jars
  • Canning funnel
  • Ladel

2.  Muscadine or Scuppernong jelly can ONLY be made in small batches – about 6 cups at a time.  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.

3.  Wash the jars and lids.  I always do this in the dishwasher — it’s plenty hot so you don’t have to boil them. (Especially if your dishwasher has a “sanitize” cycle). Or you can boil the jars for 10 minutes and leave them in the hot water until you need them.

Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water for 5 minutes.

Leave the jars in the dishwasher on “heated dry”.

4.  Wash the muscadines and then comes the hardest part: crush the muscadines. Some knucklehead told me that it would be easiest to crush them with a mashed potato crusher — sure!, if you’re the incredible hulk. These skins are TOUGH, and they nearly sent me to the breaking point….until I got smart (OK, it took a while) and used my food processor.  Just chop for a moment until they’re broken up (on short pulse cycles – you don’t want to chop up the seeds). As they cook down, you’ll be able to smush them plenty and get most of the pulp and juice.

5.  Measure your sugar.

Follow the directions with the pectin. 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. Use about 4 cups of sugar with the no-sugar pectin. Take 1/4 cup of sugar from this and mix the dry pectin with it. Keep this mixture separate from the rest of the sugar.

6.   Heat the crushed muscadines on the stove — (You’ll want to bring them to a boil to help break them down and to release the juice.) Put the crushed grapes in a big pot and stir them over medium to high heat (stirring regularly) until it starts to boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

7.  Strain the cooked muscadines — either put the soft cooked muscadines through a jelly strainer or pour them through cheesecloth in a colander. Keep the clear liquid to use and leave the solids behind.

Now: If you need to stop and take a break or even leave the rest until tomorrow….here’s where you do it. (I did!)

8.  Stir the sugar mix into 4 measured cups of the hot grape juice plus the lemon juice and put that in a large pot on the stove over medium to high heat (keep stirring so it won’t burn). Bring this to a boil, then add in the pectin/sugar mix and return to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  (If you’re starting again on day 2, just reheat the juice with the sugar and lemon, bring to a boil, then add the sugar/pectin mix and return it to a boil for one minute.)

9.  Pour hot jelly into hot, sterilized jars quickly, filling to 1/4 inch from top; wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands.

10.  Process in a boiling-water bath 5 minutes.

Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Cooking and Grilling, Chutney, Peach, Canning

This pretty jelly makes great Christmas presents — go make a few batches if you can. Store in a cool dry place and it’ll happily wait for the weather to change.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Plantation, Pets, Dogs



4 thoughts on “Muscadine Grape Jelly

  1. Sounds like a great recipe, but I missed the part where you add the lemon juice. Could you please clarify?

    • Hi Bettie – you’ll want to add the lemon juice in step 8 when you bring the sugar and grape juice to a boil. Thanks for pointing that out! The lemon juice really enhances the flavor of the grapes – enjoy!

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