How to make homemade grape jelly

by Kristen on November 12, 2008 · 62 comments

in Cheaper than store-bought, DIY, Recipes

This is kind of a cheater’s version, because it doesn’t involve squeezing the juice out of real grapes. While that sort of method might produce some very tasty jelly, it’s not at all cost-efficient unless you grow your own grapes or have access to free ones somehow.

How cheap your jelly is depends on the price you pay for your ingredients. If you buy grape juice and sugar on sale and you have a coupon for pectin, it will be really, really cheap. Plus, your homemade jelly will have no high fructose corn syrup in it(this is actually the reason I first looked into making my own).

I got this recipe from The Hillbilly Housewife(you can print it from the link there),(and it’s basically the same as the one on the insert from the pectin box) but I thought that some of you might be terrified of making your own jelly and would prefer a pictorial guide. ;) It’s actually really, really easy. I promise.

Homemade Grape Jelly

Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 3 cups grape juice (either in a bottle or prepared from concentrate)
    • 1 package powdered pectin
    • 4 cups sugar
    • glass jars that will hold 1.5 quarts of jelly

(they don’t need to be canning jars…glass jars that used to hold fruit or applesauce, or jelly will work fine)

Combine grape juice and pectin in a saucepan(I stir it with a whisk to get rid of the lumps) and bring to a boil. As an aside, do NOT add the sugar before you bring the pectin to a boil. I’ve done this waaaay too many times, and it causes the jelly to not, well, gel.

After the pectin/juice mixture has come to a boil, stir in the sugar. Bring it back up to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, and boil for a full minute.

Remove from the heat. During cooking, some foam may have appeared on the top of your jelly. I like to spoon this off.

It’s harmless, but it’ll make the top of your jelly look cloudy if you leave it there.

Ladle the jelly into your clean jars, screw on the lids, and let the jelly cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge.

If you want the jelly to be shelf-stable, you can process the jars in a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. I don’t mess with that usually…I store mine in the fridge, and they keep just fine.

The color of your jelly could vary depending on the grape juice you use. In my experience, the bottled grape juice makes a more purple jelly than reconstituted grape juice does. The jars above are made from bottled juice, and the jars below are from a concentrate.

They’ll both taste good, though, so use whatever sort of grape juice you like.

Sometimes, my jelly gels right away, but sometimes it takes a while(like 6-8 hours). So, don’t become distressed if at first it seems that all you have produced is some very sweet grape juice. Be patient, and as long as you’ve followed the recipe properly, your grape juice will have turned into jelly.

Leave a Comment

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mommy Frisbie November 12, 2008 at 3:07 pm

I remember doing this with my Mom! This is a great tutorial. Thanks so much!

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2 MrsMoney November 12, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Wow, this is awesome! Thanks for sharing. I hate HFCS. One tip I learned from canning is if you tip the jars on the lids and leave them there, they normally will seal automatically too! :)

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3 Emily November 12, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Hi Kristen,
Miriam shared your website with me a little while ago, and though it sounds cheesy…I must confess, your frugal-ness is inspiring!

Though we do not use much jelly in my house…I may have to try making some just because. :-)

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4 Bethany November 12, 2008 at 8:25 pm

Why do you make jelly? Is it really that much cheaper?

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5 Megan July 11, 2013 at 9:07 am

If you can get the fruit for free then yes, it is much cheaper! I have family that has berry vines and grape vines that I pick from every year. When we move next spring I will finally be able to get my own started. Besides the cheap factor for me, I know exactly what my kids are eating because I know where the fruit comes from.

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6 CanadianSaver November 13, 2008 at 6:27 am

Ahhh this is cool! I have some recipes that call for grape jelly… this is a great way to make it!

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7 frugal dreamer November 13, 2008 at 6:52 am

mmm…

I love grape jelly. This is a great, easy recipe!

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8 Kristen November 13, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Bethany, I originally looked for the recipe because I couldn’t find any jelly without high fructose corn syrup in it…not even at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods!

I do think it’s cheaper, as long as you get your pectin cheaply. I should do a cost breakdown, though!

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9 Bonnie November 14, 2008 at 10:48 pm

I agree that HFCS is evil! Ok so not evil, but it’s in everything. I am trying to eliminate it as much as I can from our diets so I’ve been making many things from scratch. What I’m wondering is how does the jelly taste? Thanks for the recipe and I love that site.

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10 Lisa @ Cents To Save November 16, 2008 at 11:35 am

I had no idea it so easy to make Grape jelly!! So Simple!

Lisa

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11 Jessica November 19, 2008 at 12:59 pm

That looks like a fun thing to do with the kids. Could you do the same thing with apple juice for apple jelly?

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12 Kristen November 19, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Yep, you sure can! I’ve been wanting to try it but haven’t yet.

Bonnie, it tastes almost exactly like the stuff you buy. Basically, it will taste like a sweeter version of the grape juice you use.

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13 Jessica November 19, 2008 at 3:51 pm

I’m definitely going to have to try it.

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14 Julius November 24, 2008 at 11:23 am

Of course, this will work with juice from other fruit as well, particularly apples – in which case, if done right, you may not need added pectin as apples contain quite a lot (I haven’t done this myself, mind you). For other fruit, I have a “recipe” somewhere on how to make fairly concentrated pectin extract out of otherwise non-edible apples (i.e. you use cores, skins, cooking apples, crabapples etc.). Various sorts of wild berries are edible when processed into jelly, and if you can spare the time to collect them they’re free…
(As an aside, I may be stating the obvious here, but I believe the usual way to juice things for jellies is by steaming and then straining through a muslin cloth, rather than squeezing. That’s how my grandmother once showed me how to make apple jelly, and how the recipes I’ve seen do it.)

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15 jill November 26, 2008 at 12:02 am

This actually looks really interesting!! I thought it was jam until I re-read it and it’s jelly!! Reminds me of the peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches I used to read in books!! I’m not sure if I’ll ever make them but I like it!!

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16 Trish October 22, 2009 at 11:51 pm

I want to pour the jelly into wine glasses for gifts. How do I seal them? Pour parafin over the tops after the jelly gels or cools? Help!

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17 Kristen October 23, 2009 at 5:39 am

Trish, I googled it, and it seems like paraffin wax is the way to go. I’ve never done that myself, though, so I can’t offer any great advice.

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18 ben November 1, 2009 at 12:04 am

Do you suppose there is a way to do this in a lower calorie/less sugar sort of way?

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19 Kristen November 1, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Ben, I’ve never tried it, but I know there are low-sugar ways to make jelly and jam. Try googling it, and I’m sure you’ll find something. I know that there are special techniques you have to use if you want to cut back on the sugar content.

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20 Ronni January 15, 2011 at 12:46 am

Does the store bought grape juice already have high fructose corn syrup?

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21 Kristen January 15, 2011 at 6:28 am

Nope, not if you get 100% juice. :)

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22 Rachel Gontz May 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm

We do strawberry every year when strawberries come into season. I have a pretty big family and Pb&j is a staple here. I do two flats of berries and we get almost enough jelly to last a full year. The best part is I get to control the amount of sugar and it is 100 times better than the grocery store jelly.

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23 Mikala July 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Can this recipe also be frozen?

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24 amanda- The Sweet Details March 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm

have you every tried this with red wine? I wonder if you could use the same recipe??

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25 Kristen March 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I have not…in fact, I’ve never had red wine jelly.

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26 Derek March 22, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Thanks! I have been searching for a recipe that didn’t make like 15 jars of jelly. I really don’t need that much for 2 people nor have the storage for it. Thank you so much! I may mess with it a bit with some homemade juices too to get ones with less sugar. Thanks again!

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27 Amanda April 4, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Can fresh fruit be used for this jelly? I’d love to make strawberry jelly, but I’m not sure how to do it. Could I just puree the fruit, or would I need to do extensive straining?
Thanks for the great recipe and tutorial, I love your website!

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28 Kristen April 4, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Well, you’d need strawberry juice, I think, and I’m not sure how to do that.

I have a recipe for strawberry jam on my blog, though!

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29 Sara April 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Extracting strawberry juice is actually not difficult at all. Purchase at least 4lbs of fresh starwberries (I always get 4-5 lbs, pending on the size of the berries) and two large lemons. Wash the berries; cut the “caps/tops” & slice berries into quarters; once all cut, mash berries into large stock pot, one layer of berries at a time (I use of stainless steel potato masher); cut lemons in half and squeeze to produce 1/4 Cup lemon juice; mix into berries.
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently so as not to burn, and then simmer uncovered for 10 mins. Take a strainer (not a collander, a hand-held strainer) that has a full covering of cheese cloth (can purchase @ wal-mart, just ask), place over a deep bowl, slowly pour berries into strainer & allow juice to “fall”.

You need 3 3/4 Cups juice per batch of strawberry jelly you wish to make.

That’s all it takes to extract strawberry juice! Follow a basic jelly recipe from there if you have one. If not, Certo’s recipe says:
3 3/4 Cup juice (return to pot)
7 1/2 Cups sugar
2 pouches of Liquid Pectin

(1)Stir sugar into juice & bring to a full rolling boil (does not reduce when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.
(2) Quickly stir in pectin & bring back to full rolling boil for exactly one minute, stirring constantly.
(3) Skim foam from jelly; laddle into jars

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30 Sara April 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Hello! I was wondering if adding the pectin-whether it be liquid or powder-prior to the sugar works for other fruits as well? (IE–strawberry, cherry, or apple?)
I have been having a bit of difficulty with my canning lately, where I have needed to re-set my jellies despite following my usual recipes. Granted on one I did try to reduce the sugar, but I did not compensate for the subtraction, so that one I understand. But is the “adding pectin & boil prior to adding sugar” a universal rule used for how you can? Do you think it would work for various fruits?

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31 Kristen April 25, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Well, I imagine you can use this sort of recipe with other prepared juices…but to be on the safe side, I’d stick to the recipes like you can find on the insert in the pectin box.

I can say that adding the sugar prior to the pectin has always equalled disaster for me!

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32 Farzana August 4, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Hi! Great post! Does the bottled or concentrated juice jelly taste better? Also, I wanted to try honey/reduced sugar version, and also adding chamomile or elderflower flavour to the jelly but I dont know what amounts to do, does anyone have advice please? Thank you :)

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33 Kristen August 6, 2012 at 10:13 am

Reducing sugar will only work with special pectin-look for low-sugar pectin at your store.

Bottle or concentrated tastes the same to me!

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34 Bonnie Rippe September 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm

can you double the recipe for bigger batches and it turn out ok?

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35 Kristen September 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm

I’ve read that that’s not a good idea (the pectin package directions say not to double) so I’ve never tried it.

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36 Donica Mitchem October 13, 2012 at 11:17 am

This was my first time doing anything like this. This was fun, simple, tasty, and very easy to do!! I really had fun doing this recipe and can’t wait to do it again!!

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37 Canadian Budget Binder December 9, 2012 at 6:17 am

That seems fairly easy. We make crab apple spice jam every year with the apples on our tree. The first year we lived here we were giving the apples away as they would fall to the ground and create a mess. One day the lady who picked them up for free knocked on our door the next day with apple butter and apple jelly, it was amazing. We thought, why can’t we do that and there was plenty to go around even to offer for free to whoever wanted apples. I shared this post as well on the blog but the reality is sometimes we put inconveniences first before thinking outside the box. If it wasn’t for that lady we would have never thought to make something with those apples rather than tossing them in the compost heap! Cheers Mr.CBB

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38 Barbara Thompson December 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I’m going to make the grape jelly for hostess gifts at Christmas. Thanks!

Barbara Thompson

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39 shavelle December 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Thank You for putting this recipe for me and everybody i preciate you for doing that

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40 Liane January 17, 2013 at 7:50 am

I never thought to use store bought juice! I’ve canned various jams for years, but grape jelly was too much effort (& I prefer jams!) I go a little crazy with my kids at u-pick berry places, but we eat lots of pb&j and many a hostess has received my homemade jams. Much more personal than another bottle of wine.

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41 julie January 19, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Love this. We recently discovered that my son is fructose intolerant. It has made me very aware of how much of our food contains it. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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42 Angel July 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Just tried the recipe and waiting for them to cool. So excited! Another tip on skimming the foam: if you didn’t get it all as it was cooking, you can wait a bit after pouring the jelly into the jars. As they cool, the foam becomes a skin-like cover and can be easily removed from the top. So much easier:) Thank you for this recipe. I can feel better about my kids eating their pb&j’s since I know EXACTLY what’s in it and where it comes from…my kitchen:) Thanks again.

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43 Kristen July 29, 2013 at 11:57 am

My baby boy loves grape jelly and I wanted to try my hand at this. Do you use grape juice that is no sugar added or sugar free?? I thought that would make it really sweet if not. Just curious what to buy. Thanks for sharing

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44 Kristen July 29, 2013 at 7:24 pm

I use the sort that’s 100% grape juice.

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45 cristy August 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm

O.K. This might be a stupid question but I am going to ask anyway, when using the Frozen Juice do I make it up like you would to drink then measure out or do I just measure it straight from the can?? :-)

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46 Kristen August 5, 2013 at 6:14 am

Yep, just make it up like you would to drink it.

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47 Lindsay August 27, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Just made this for the first time with great success! I accidentally bought liquid instead of powdered pectin but it worked out the same.

I’m amazed at how much more powerful the flavor is — my husband is thrilled and asked me to make some biscuits ASAP.

So long, store-bought grape jelly!

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48 Barb September 3, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Thank U for this recipe, I made grape jelly from real grape juice, I hope it jells.

Have a nice day.

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49 Claudette September 4, 2013 at 8:18 am

Have you ever used wine grapes to make grape jelly? I have been given grapes that originally come from vines that were brought here from Greece and tried one batch. It is very tacky like taffy. do you have any suggestions?
Thanks

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50 Kristen September 4, 2013 at 11:36 am

Oh, I wish I could help, but I’ve never used anything but commercial grape juice.

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51 Racheal September 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I’ve been canning or helping to can all of my life. If your jelly is not gelled enough, put it back in a water bath for twenty minutes. If that does not fix the problem, try refrigerating; that sometimes helps too.

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52 pam September 9, 2013 at 9:59 am

Does the grape juice need to unsweetened? and 100 percent juice?

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53 Kristen September 9, 2013 at 11:47 am

That’s what I’ve always used.

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54 Geri October 14, 2013 at 8:11 am

Where do you get the coupon for Pectin??

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55 Kristen October 14, 2013 at 9:20 am

I’ve found them inside the boxes of Ball pectin before.

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56 Ramona March 29, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Hi, could this be treated like a freezer jelly?

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57 Kristen April 16, 2014 at 3:05 pm

I’m not sure! I think it could be frozen after you make it, but I also know that pectin comes with recipes specifically for freezer jelly, so you might want to follow those instructions to be safe.

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58 Bel September 29, 2014 at 3:21 am

Hi, many thanks for this recipe- we cannot buy grape jelly in Scotland so I’m excited to try this! I do have one question, by package, do you mean box? Thanks, I’ve sourced pectin here (quite hard to find) but is a different size box so I need to measure.

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59 Kristen September 29, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Yep, one box. Here in the U.S. each box contains on packet of pectin.

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60 Bart October 15, 2014 at 9:40 pm

It is strange that nobody on here has made grape jelly using beet juice as the base instead of grape juice. My mother in law made this every year and it was fantastic and cheap

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