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How To Make Southern Muscadine Jelly

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Fall in the South brings forth many traditions with it. Football season starts, hunting season starts, and fall fruit season starts.

Among the fruits are a few favorites, apples in the higher elevations are ripening, persimmon tree fruits are changing from green to purple to bright orange, and muscadines are ripening. One of our favorite things to make is Muscadine Jelly. Today we are going to share our process for How to Make Southern Muscadine Jelly.

In 1984, I was four years old when we first moved to the home place where I grew up. We originally lived about 30 mins up the road in a different county. Both locations were in my native state of South Carolina.

The new home and homestead we relocated to were built in the early 1900s. There were barns and pastures among fruit trees and bushes. The very first memory I have is a 4-post trellis in the corner of the yard with a huge Muscadine Vine growing up it.

My kids harvesting Muscadines from a similar four post trelisis

This muscadine vine not only provided lots of fresh fruit and jelly over the years, but it also served as a makeshift clubhouse for an elementary kid growing up in the south. I would climb up one of the posts and sit up there in the weave of the vines on top, staring at the clouds as they passed by.

As you can see, not only do I love the fruit from the vines it produces, but it also has a strong correlation with my memories of growing up in the South. It truly is the fruit of the south.

What Is a Muscadine?

If you are not from the southern US, you may be thinking “what the heck is a muscadine?” Muscadines are a southern wild grape that can be found in the understory forest throughout the south.

Wild Muscadine Vine Growing On My Property.
Wild Muscadine vine growing on my property

The vines grow up into the tops of trees, and the wild grapes fall to the ground in late summer to throughout the fall. The muscadines thrive in the southern hot and humid environments, something that traditional grapes struggle with. The wild grapes are smaller in size but cultivated varieties tend to be large grapes.

Some people think that the muscadine was the very first cultivated variety and there are many cultivated varieties now to choose from. Homesteads in the South have grown muscadines for many years. You may be hard-pressed to find a homestead without their own muscadine vine growing on their property.

There are two colors that you can find them in, Purple and bronze. The purple grape can be anywhere from a dark blackish purple (Plum color) to a reddish purple (Magenta). The bronze grape can be green to greenish bronze.

Purple Muscadine (magenta colored)

Many people get confused when discussing Muscadine grapes with another variety called Scuppernong. Scuppernong grapes are still muscadines but a are cultivated variety of them.

There are many other varieties such as Carlos, Noble, Ison, Dixie Red, Fry, Hall, and Pam. The list is much more extensive than this but these are just a few of them.

The University of Georgia has a great research program dedicated to growing new varieties and testing older ones. If you are interested in purchasing vines, check out Ison’s or Bottoms Nurseries.

For more information on the UGA Vineyard, check out my buddy Matt Dean from Dean Family Acres on his recent visit to UGA Tifton GA, Muscadine Vineyard.

What Do They Taste Like?

Muscadines are full of vitamins and nutrients. They are a super fruit in a sense of the word. It really depends on the variety as to the flavor and taste, but they all have a similar taste.

The first thing to note is the skin. The skin can be thick and tough. Some people bite the grape open and get the pulp out. At that point, they spit out the thick skin. Some people prefer to eat the skin and all. I personally like the skin. It is full of all the vitamins and nutrients also.

Muscadines do have seeds in them so you may want to spit those out.

Muscadines have a distinct taste and a wonderful smell. They have a very intense sweet flavor. They are very sweet with a musky scent. If you have a large bowl full of them, the wonderful smell will fill up your kitchen with a heavenly sweet scent.

How To Make Muscadine Jelly:

First, let’s talk about the tools you will need to make Muscadine Jelly:

  • Large Pot, Large Stockpot, or Large Saucepan
  • Small Pot or Stock Pot
  • 8 Half-Pint Jars (8 oz Jars) with Screw Rings and Lids

Ingredients:

Muscadines

The star of the show is Muscadines. Normally I prefer to keep the purple varieties separate from the bronze, but in this picture, I was lacking enough purple muscadines to make a batch so I added in a few Bronze ones. The results still make a beautiful purple-colored Jelly.

Purple Muscadines Cooking Down ( I added a few bronze to have enough to make the Jelly)
Bronze Muscadines cooking down (Scuppernong)

You can see in this picture of me cooking them down how I have them separated. This only affects the color of the juice and is simply a personal preference.

I didn’t have enough purple, so I did add in some bronze to give me enough juice. You will need roughly five to six pounds of muscadines to yield 5 cups of Muscadine juice.

Sugar

Making Jelly takes a lot of sugar. Do not skimp on the sugar or your recipe will not work out right. You will not have enough liquid to fill the number of jars the recipe calls for. You will need 6 cups of sugar.

Sure Jell

Sure Jell is premium fruit pectin. Sure Jell has citric acid in it to help the Jelly or Jam set. Without this, your jelly could turn to liquid and weep.

I use the original Sure Jell (yellow box)

There are other ways to get by without Sure Jell, like using lemon juice, but for this recipe to work out right, you will need Sure Jell. You will need 1 box or Sure Jell. (1.75oz package size)

Butter

I recommend not skipping this ingredient. I have made it with and without it. The benefit of using butter is it keeps the mixture from foaming up.

Once you reach high heat, your fruit juice mixed with the sugar will want to explode in foam. Adding in a teaspoon of butter will prevent this from happening. You will need one teaspoon of butter.

Instructions:

Sterilizing the Jars

Step 1: Fill your water bath canner up with water and place it on the stove. Turn the burner to high heat and begin to heat the water up. Next, before you begin any canning job or recipe wash the jars. Even if they are brand new out of the package, I like to wash them first along with the rings and lids.

Step 2: Place the jars into the water bath canner. Make sure you have the wire rack in the canner. You can raise the wire rack to set the jars on it, then lower it down into the water. This step is to sterilize the jars.

Step 3: Grab a small stock pot or saucepan and fill it halfway up with water. Place the lids and rings into the pot and put them on the stove. I usually put this on low heat. This is to sterilize the lids and rings, but also it helps the lids seal once you go to use them. I leave this on the heat the whole time while canning until I am ready to use them.

Lids sterilized in a small stock pot

Making The Muscadine Juice

Step 1: Wash and sort the muscadine grapes, taking out any bad ones.

washing and sorting muscadine grapes.
Washing and sorting Muscadine Grapes

Step 2: Grab a large stock pot and put the muscadine grapes in the pot. Fill with water up to the grapes. You want to have just enough water to cover the grapes.

Step 3: Cook the grapes on medium-low heat. Some recipes call to cook for only 15 minutes, but I like to cook mine longer. I will cook for thirty to forty-five minutes.

I like to cook it a little longer as it brings out more color from the skins of the grape making a very beautiful-looking jelly. While the grapes are cooking, use a potato masher to smash the grapes.

Mashing grapes

Step 4: After the grapes have cooked, the next thing to do is to strain them to remove the juice from the skin and remove the seeds. I use a food strainer that has a pestle with it.

You can work the pestle around and it squeezes the juice and pulp out. If you do not have this, you can use a wire colander, a food strainer, or even a cheesecloth. You will just have to press and squeeze the grapes to get the juice out.

Working pestle around in the food strainer
Juice coming out of the food strainer

Making The Muscadine Jelly

Step 1: Measure out five cups of juice and add the juice to a large stock pot. Bring to a full rolling boil. It should be boiling so much that it does not stop when it is stirred with a spoon.

Step 2: Add in the full box of pectin and stir until dissolved. Then add in the butter.

Step 3: Bring the mixture back up to a rolling boil for one minute then slowly stir in the six cups of sugar. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.

Testing Mixture

Step 4: At this point, you can test the mixture to see if it is ready to pour into the jars by dipping the back of a spoon into the mixture. The mixture should “sheet” from the spoon and not drip. If not, you will need to add in more pectin.

Step 5: Remove your hot jars from the hot water bath and set them on a dry towel or sheet pan. Fill each jar up with hot jelly mixture using the funnel from the 3-piece canning set.

Jars Ready To Be Filled

Next, you will set the headspace of the jars by using the headspace tool to measure. You want to leave ¼ inch of headspace.

Step 6: Using a damp cloth, wipe rims of the hot jars down carefully. Next using the lid tool from the 3-piece canning set, dip the magnet end of the tool into the water where you have the metal lids. Remove a lid and a screw ring. Place the lid on each jar and put a screw ring on it. You only need to hand tighten the ring.

Step 7: Use the Jar lifter to place each jar back into the water bath canner. Make sure you have at least one inch of water above the jars once they are let down into the water. Bring the water up to a rolling boil.

You will run the Muscadine Jelly in the water bath canner for 10 minutes after it has come up to a rolling boil. If you live in a high elevation area the time will change. Make sure to check the Ball canning guide or the Sure Jell instructions for the correct time.

Step 8: After the time is up, remove the jars from the water bath canner and place jars on a cooling rack or a tea towel to cool off. This is when you will hear the most glorious sound your ears have ever heard, canning jar lids popping!

Finished Product
Pro Tip: Make sure not to double the batches as this can make it not jell or turn out right. Once the jelly has cooled off to room temperature, check to make sure it has set. This could take until the next day. 
If the homemade jelly has set, you are good to eat it. If it has not been set, you can redo it but dumping back into a pot and adding in more pectin, then repeating the water bath canning steps.  

How To Make Southern Muscadine Jelly

How To Make Southern Muscadine Jelly.

Fall in the South brings forth many traditions with it. Football season starts, hunting season starts, and fall fruit season starts. Among the fruits are a few favorites, apples in the higher elevations are ripening, persimmon tree fruits are changing from green to purple to bright orange, and muscadines are ripening. One of our favorite things to make is Muscadine Jelly. Today we are going to share our process for How to Make Southern Muscadine Jelly.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • Ingredients for Making The Muscadine Juice
  • 5-6 Pounds Muscadine Grapes
  • 5 cups of water or enough to cover the grapes

Making The Jelly

  • 5 cups Muscadine Juice
  • 6 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 box Sure Jell (1.75oz package)
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Instructions

Sterilizing the Jars

  1. Step 1: Fill your water bath canner up with water and place it on the stove. Turn the burner to high heat and begin to heat the water up. Next, before you begin any canning job or recipe wash the jars. Even if they are brand new out of the package, I like to wash them first along with the rings and lids.
  2. Step 2: Place the jars into the water bath canner. Make sure you have the wire rack in the canner. You can raise the wire rack to set the jars on it, then lower it down into the water. This step is to sterilize the jars.
  3. Step 3: Grab a small stock pot or saucepan and fill halfway up with water. Place the lids and rings into the pot and put them on the stove. I usually put this on low heat. This is to sterilize the lids and rings, but also it helps the lids seal once you go to use them. I leave this on the heat the whole time while canning until I am ready to use them.

Making Muscadine Juice

  1. Step 1: Wash and sort the muscadine grapes, taking out any bad ones.
  2. Step 2: Grab a large stock pot and put the muscadine grapes in the pot. Fill with water up to the grapes. You will need just enough water to cover the grapes.
  3. Step 3: Cook the grapes on medium-low heat. Some recipes call to cook for only 15 minutes, but I like to cook mine longer. I will cook for thirty to forty-five minutes.
  4. I like to cook a little longer as it brings out more color from the skins of the grape making a very beautiful-looking jelly. While the grapes are cooking, use a potato masher to smash the grapes.
  5. Step 4: After the grapes have cooked, the next thing to do is to strain them to remove the juice from the skin and remove the seeds. I use a food strainer that has a pestle with it. You can work the pestle around and it squeezes the juice and pulp out. If you do not have this, you can use a wire colander, a food strainer, or even a cheesecloth. You will just have to press and squeeze the grapes to get the juice out.

Making The Muscadine Jelly

  1. Step 1: Measure out five cups of juice and add it to a large stock pot. Bring to a full rolling boil. It should be boiling so much that it does not stop when it is stirred with a spoon.
  2. Step 2: Add in the full box of pectin and stir until dissolved. Then add in the butter.
  3. Step 3: Bring the mixture back up to a rolling boil for one minute then slowly stir in the six cups of sugar. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Step 4: At this point, you can test the mixture to see if it is ready to pour into the jars by dipping the back of a spoon into the mixture. The mixture should “sheet” from the spoon and not drip. If not, you will need to add in more pectin.
  5. Step 5: Remove your hot jars from the hot water bath and set them on a dry towel or sheet pan. Fill each jar up with hot jelly mixture using the funnel from the 3-piece canning set.
  6. Next, you will set the headspace with the headspace tool. You want to leave ¼ inch of headspace.
  7. Step 6: Using a damp cloth, wipe rims of the hot jars down carefully. Next using the lid tool from the 3-piece canning set, dip the magnet end of the tool into the water where you have the metal lids. Remove a lid and a screw ring. Place the lid on each jar and put a screw ring on it. You will just hand tighten it.
  8. Step 7: Use the Jar lifter to place each jar back into the water bath canner. Make sure you have at least one inch of water above the jars once they are left down into the water. Bring the water up to a rolling boil.
  9. You will run the Muscadine Jelly in the water bath canner for 10 minutes after it has come up to a rolling boil. If you live in a high elevation area the time will change. Make sure to check the Ball canning guide or the Sure Jell instructions for the correct time.
  10. Step 8: After the time is up, remove the jars from the water bath canner and place jars on a cooling rack or a tea towel to cool off. This is when you will hear the most glorious sound your ears have ever heard, canning jar lids popping!

Notes

Pro Tip: Make sure not to double the batches as this can make it not jell or turn out right. Once the jelly has cooled off to room temperature, check to make sure it has set. This could take until the next day.
If the homemade jelly has set, you are good to eat it. If it has not been set, you can redo it but dumping back into a pot and adding in more pectin, then repeating the water bath canning steps.  

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1 grams

Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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FAQ’s

Do I Have To Use One Variety of Muscadines?

You can mix and match if you want. I prefer to keep them separate for the color aspect of the finished product.

How Can I Store The Fresh Muscadines Before I am Ready to Make My Jelly?

You can store the fresh muscadines in a separate bowl. Place them in a cool dark place but try to use them quickly as they will ripen and then spoil in a few short days. You could also place them in the refrigerator to extend the freshness.

Can I Use Pint Jars Instead?

Yes, you can use Pint Jars instead. Pint Jars will make half as much (four jars instead of 8).

Can I Use Muscadine Grapes From The Grocery Store or Farmers Markets?

Yes, you can use Muscadines that are wild, from the grocery store, from your farmer’s markets, etc.

Is This Muscadine Jelly Recipe The Same as Scuppernong Jelly Recipe?

Yes, Sucppernogs are a variety of Muscadines the same way a yellow delicious is a variety of apples.

Can I Double My Batches?

I would recommend against double the batch. This can make the Jelly not jell right.


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-Ronnie

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