One of our summer “to do’s” each year is to pick mustang grapes and turn them into jelly. We ran out of Mustang Grape Jelly a year or two ago and we couldn’t find any wild grapes in our usual spot. So, this year we completely ran out of our homemade jelly/jam (all the strawberry, peach, etc. was GONE). This hasn’t happened to us in over 5 years. So, the hunt was on for more grapes this year and went back to our normal “out of the way” super secret spot. Really it’s not so secret but few people in this area seem to know about it.
Mustang grapes are a wild grape in this area. When they are ripe they are a solid black and can be found along fences and draped over trees all around Central Texas. You cannot eat raw mustang grapes as they are extremely acidic and can burn your stomach. Not a pleasant thing to be sure. In fact, they must be cooked and usually with added sugar, therefore making it the perfect fruit for jelly.
We had an entire stock pot full of grapes and part of a reusable bag. To turn these black beauties into delicious jam/jelly, you must first clean them thoroughly. Here’s our 10-step method to canning mustang grapes:
- Thoroughly clean and de-stem all the grapes. Remove any debris and rinse two or three times in a colander.
- Fill a stock pot full of the washed and clean grapes.
- Add about 2 cups of water to the pot and put a lid on it.
- Turn the burner to medium heat and let the grapes cook/simmer until they start to pop open – about 20-30 minutes.
- While the grapes are softening up on the stove, wash and sterilize your jars and lids. Start the water bath for canning.
- Once the grapes have popped/split open, turn off the burner and in small batches, run the grapes through a food mill over a large pot. This will remove the skins and seeds, as well as extract all the juice from the grapes.
- Once all the grapes have been processed through the food mill, measure out 5 cups of juice and pour into a separate pot for making the jelly/jam.
- Add one package of pectin and stir until the mixture can’t be stirred down (like a rolling boil).
- Add 7 cups of sugar and stir again until the mixture boils for one full minute.
- Pour into jars, seal, and put in water bath canner for 10 minutes (for pints and half-pints).
- Remove from canner and let rest for 24 hours before removing the rings.
- Save the rest of the juice for a second (or third or fourth) batch of jelly. If you don’t want to make any additional batches, simply let the juice cool and package it in quart freezer bags in 5 cup quantities to make later.