My wife and I checked on the wild Mustang grapes at our place in Lampasas this last week. We have been watching them this season in hopes of beating the coons and birds to enough ripe grapes to make some jelly or wine for the season. There were none last year due to the drought and very few this year. We picked a small batch last week and my wife made jelly while I made a batch of wine. Jena returned with a friend last weekend and brought back some buckets of beautiful ripe deep purple grapes. From the juice she again made some of the tangy dark purple jelly while I started two more carboys of the wine. If all goes well we will have 15 gallons of the rich sweet wine to drink and share with friends this next year.
Mustang grape jelly always brings back memories of my grandmothers and my mom making jelly. The process would fill the house with a wonderful sweet, rich grape smell that promised the taste of biscuits filled with butter and the rich grape flavor of the Texas Hill County. It has been many years since I was involved with processing the grapes and I had forgotten how purple and rich the juice from wild mustang grapes becomes as you cook the grapes down. Here is a good basic recipe for a really pretty and wonderful tasting Mustang Grape jelly. Hope you enjoy the biscuits and peanut butter sandwiches that will taste a whole lot better with your homemade jelly.
Mustang Grape Jelly
Wash grapes thoroughly and put washed grapes in a cooker, add enough water to cover them. After the water starts to boil, cook the grapes (stirring frequently) until the skins begin to slip. When the skins will slip easily from the grapes, they are ready to press. Strain the cooked grapes and juice through a colander lined with a jelly bag or medium textured cloth. (My wife uses an old clean white pillow case) Press and/or squeeze all the juice from the grapes with a wood spoon or by hand. Add one box of fruit pectin to 7 cups of juice. Bring this mixture to a rolling boil and then add seven cups of sugar. Stirring constantly bring the mixture back to a rolling boil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. When the mixture forms a string as it is poured from a spoon, remove from heat. Skim all the foam and crystals from the surface, and pour the processed jelly into hot sterilized jars. (If you add a 1/4 teaspoon of butter you will have very little to skim off) Clean jar rims and seal immediately with canning lids before the jelly cools.
Warning: From personal experience let me warn you to wear latex or similar gloves to pick the grapes as the acid you will get on your hands burns. Also wear old clothes that you do not mind staining as the grapes stain everything they touch. Be very careful about getting the juice on anything you do not want to dye purple as the juice colors anything it is spilled on or wiped up with. Don’t ask me how I know. Wild Ed
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