spiced grape jelly

I was congratulating myself the other day on having homemade jelly tucked away for winter. I felt like a real homesteader using the backyard grapes my friend Joni the gardener had supplied. But as I reached for the jar I realized my stock was dwindling – fast. The problem with homemade preserves is they are too good. It’s hard to keep them around to sustain you through the winter. If you’re in the mood for real grape jelly, and believe me this is nothing like Welch’s, try this recipe. Trust me, it won’t last long. If you’re wondering where I got the unique custom labels, click over to Lelo’s site on Etsy.

About 4½ lbs. grapes
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg, or to taste
½ teaspoon ground cloves, or to taste
1 (1.75 oz.) pkg. powdered fruit pectin
6 cups sugar

Remove grapes from their stems and place in a large pot. Add just enough water to keep the grapes from scorching (about ¼ to ½ cup) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring and mashing the grapes with a potato masher or spoon to crush. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or the grapes are soft, crushed and the juices are flowing.

Spoon the grape mixture and liquid into a jelly bag fitted over a large bowl or into a cheesecloth-lined colander set over a bowl and let stand 4 hours or refrigerate overnight. (I let mine go overnight to all the juice drain.)

Measure out 5 cups of the grape juice into a large pot. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and taste, adding additional spices as desired. (It’s important to taste and get the spices the way you want them at this point, because you won’t be able to do so later.)

Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add the sugar and bring back to a full boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam.

Pour jelly into sterilized jars and immediately place lids and rings on jars. Process jars in boiling water 10 minutes or according to canning directions. OR, if you don’t want to further process the jelly, store the cooled jars in the refrigerator for 1 week or freeze for up to 6 months.

Please consult a canning book, Fresh Preserving, or the USDA for sterilizing and processing information.

Makes about 8 (1-cup) jars