Muscadine Grape Jam

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Andrea Meyers - Muscadine Grape Jam

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When my parents said the farmers market in downtown Columbia, SC was a drive thru, they weren’t kidding. We literally drove through the giant open barn that houses the market, with vendors on either side of the “road” and loads of fresh local fruits and vegetables. Melons and peaches were in abundance as were the local wild grapes which are in season, the muscadines and scuppernogs. They were stacked in large wood chip baskets on rolling shelves, lined up on the ground, and overflowing out of the backs of trucks that were lined up on each side of the barn. We stopped at a few vendors, buying cantaloupes, then checking out the wild grapes. We brought home a big basket of muscadines and a small basket of scuppernogs and sampled them at our leisure.

Andrea Meyers - Muscadine and Scuppernog grapes

The dark muscadines are a little sweeter than the green scuppernogs, though they are both technically muscadine grapes. These aren’t the typical sweet seedless grapes that you find in the grocery stores; they have a rich, complex flavor, which makes them good wine grapes. The skins are thick, so thick that chewing takes some work, but you can just pierce the skin with your teeth and suck out the rich pulp. Don’t forget to spit the seeds.

If you can’t make wine from them, the next best thing is to make jam. The old fashioned method cooks the skins separate from the pulp, which is strained to remove the seeds, then recombines it all. I tried a variation on this method, though I can’t say this is thoroughly tested. I made two batches, one set up well but the other only so-so. Since we can’t find muscadines in our area, I can’t retest until next August when we make another trip south to visit family, which means this is an experimental recipe. Try it, see if you like it, tell me how it works for you.

What I can vouch for is the flavor, which makes me wish I had muscadines growing in our backyard. We enjoy it with goat cheese and crackers, but it’s also good for spreading on toast or English muffins. You may never go back to grocery store grape jam.

MUSCADINE GRAPE JAM

Makes 8 (8-ounce) jars.

Equipment

6-quart heavy bottom pot with lid
4-quart heavy bottom pot
large bowl
sieve or food mill
potato masher
8 (8-ounce) jelly jars with lids and bands
canning pot with lid
wide mouth funnel
jar lifter

Ingredients

1 gallon muscadine grapes
4-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 package pectin, dry

Preparation

1. Rinse the grapes well and remove the stems. Pierce each grape with a sharp  knife and put them in 6-quart pot. Add water just until the grapes start to float. Cover with the lid and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the grapes are soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. Mash the grapes using the potato masher.

2. Press the mixture through a sieve or use a food mill to separate the pulp from the skins and seeds. Use a spatula to scrape excess pulp from underneath the sieve into the bowl. You should end up with about 6 cups of juice. Transfer the pulp and juice into the 4-quart pot.

3. Mix together the pectin and 1/4 cup of the sugar, then add to the grape pulp and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Add the remaining sugar and bring back to a full boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. The mixture should have small bubbles constantly breaking the surface. Continue cooking for 10 minutes, then test the mixture by spooning a little out onto a plate. Wait a few minutes and check the jam, it should start to set as it cools. If it’s too runny, continue cooking and checking every 5 minutes.

4. While the mixture cooks, place the jars in the canning pot and add water until it’s 1 inch over the top of the jars. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat, leaving the jars in for at least 10 minutes. In the small pot, heat water to 180° F. Add the lids and leave them in for at least 10 minutes to soften the sealing compound and sterilize them. Do not boil the lids to avoid seal failure.

5. When the mixture is ready, drain and remove the jars from the pot. Turn on the heat for the canning pot and bring the water temperature up to 180° F. Ladle the jam mixture into the jars using the wide mouth funnel, leaving about 1/4-inch headspace. Run a thin spatula around the inside edge of the jar to remove bubbles. Wipe the top of the jars clean with a clean damp cloth and place the hot lids on top. Add the bands and tighten just until finger tight.

6. Use the jar lifter to gently lower the jars into the hot water. Cover with the lid and bring back to a rolling boil. Process for 10 minutes, then use the jar lifter to remove the jars from the pot. Place hot jars on a wooden board and leave them for 12 to 24 hours, until they cool completely. Check for a seal after they have cooled. Store sealed jars in a cool dark place for up to 12 months. Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator.

More Jams and Jellies

Andrea Meyers - Ginger Plum Jam Andrea Meyers - Jalapeno Jelly Andrea Meyers - Tomato Jam (Doce de Tomate)

More Jam Recipes From Around the Blogs

Hedonia – Fig Jam

Wasabimon – Peach Elderberry Jam

The Cook’s Cottage – Passion Fruit Jam

eCurry – Mango Jam

[An original post from Andrea Meyers: making life delicious. All images and text copyrighted, All Rights Reserved.]

[Disclosure: This blog earns a few cents on items purchased through the Amazon.com links in posts.]

Comments

  1. says

    I used to live in Columbia and had almost forgotten about the drive-through farmers’ market. Your post just made me homesick for it and for my mother’s muscadine jelly. Thanks for bringing back good memories!

  2. Rayna says

    Thanks for the inspiration! I just made a small batch using 2c of possum grapes from the vines in my backyard. It’s gelling perfectly. I can’t wait to try it!

  3. Bonnie Driggers says

    I am a botanical artist working on a book of native plants and would like very much to obtain a bunch of native grapes, preferably with a bit of vine and a couple of leaves. Do you have any of these grapes growing locally? I remember picking the wild grapes when I was growing up in North Alabama. They were wonderful. And they would make a unique addition to the book. You can see some of my work at this web site. botanicalartists.com/BonnieDriggers/index.htm

  4. Laurie says

    I’ve enjoyed making your recipe three times now. A friend asked me about the recipe so I got back on your site and noticed that you had removed the portion of step 2 that said “You should end up with about 6 cups of juice…” This is a crucial step and I hate to see it deleted! I had to gently simmer my juice to concentrate it to the proper ratio so the jam would set. Thanks for a great recipe, Andrea!

    • says

      Hi Laurie, thanks for pointing that out. I occasionally go back and update older recipes, which can be both helpful and dangerous, like when I accidentally delete something. :-)

  5. Tony Beckman says

    I grew up in North Alabama (Huntsville area) and in different seasons you could go onto the properties of others (without worrying!) and pick loads of wild grapes and berries, including muscadines. Mama always made a bunch of quart jars of blackberries, muscadines, possum grapes, and other miscelenous wild fruits that I and 3 older brothers picked during the Summer and Fall. I sure miss them all now!
    Tony Beckman

    • says

      Hi Tony, thanks for visiting. We put in a grape arbor a few years ago, and the boys enjoy picking our muscadine, concord, and catawba grapes. I’m anxious for this year’s muscadines as we’ve run out of jam. :-)

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