Paybacks are hell...literally...especially with the heat wave America is experiencing. I would get razed about this time every year about how nice it was in every part of the rest of America compared to our Texas heat. I figured one day they would get theirs. HA! Little did they know it would come so soon. The funny part is...little Boerne, TX is actually cooler than most of America. Maybe it's God's way of evening the score. But that's not what this blog is about.
About this time every summer "feral" vines start putting out ripe grapes all over the state of Texas. For those of you who live here...you probably pass by the vines every day on your way to town. They grow wild on country fences and especially like the motts near creeks and rivers. I have two favorite places to harvest them...the Tractor Supply parking lot and at the Kendall County Fair Grounds here in Boerne, Texas. Crum...if it's going to be blistering hot...you might as well be inside where it's cool making some Wild Mustang Grape Jelly.
It's really not that hard...just looks hard...or like you really fussed. It's time intensive...meaning...it takes time to pick the grapes and de-stem them. The actual jelly making is a breeze. So...just because I'm nice, I'm going to tell you how YOU can make Wild Mustang Grape Jelly...even if you razed me about my blistering hot summer days last year.
Before I start...just a couple of veteran hints on picking grapes:
- Pick grapes in the morning when it's cool.
- Take a pair of scissors or garden snips just in case you run into some difficult vines.
- Always, always, ALWAYS wear a long sleeve shirt and gloves to pick grapes. If you don't, your skin will be itching for a couple days.
- Get permission from the folks that own or manage the place where you pick your grapes. You don't want to create bad mojo between you and your neighbor...even if they don't live on the vacant lot where you pick.
Here's What You'll Need:
- Half pint jars with lids and rims
- Large stock pot
- Small sauce pan for sterilizing lids
- Jar funnel
- Wet paper towel
- Large and small measuring cups
- Large bowl
- Potato masher or slotted spoon
- 1-2 gallons of Mustang Grapes
- 7 cups of sugar (pre-measured and put aside)
- 1/2 tsp. of butter
- 1 box of Sure-Gel Pectin
- Wash and de-stem grapes.
- Put grapes in large pot. Add 1-2 cups of water.
- Heat grapes on medium-high heat, gently mashing them while they are cooking. As it cooks you will see the grapes popping out of their skins.
- Simmer for 10 minutes or until they are a ruby red color.
- While grapes are simmering...you can put your lids into a small pan of water. Heat...but don't bring to a boil. Turn off heat and have them ready for later.
- Ladle grapes and juices into a sieve and press juice through into your large bowl. Discard seeds and skins.
- Measure out 5 cups of juice and return to clean pot.
- Add one box of pectin and bring to a rolling boil. (A rolling boil is when you can stir the liquid and still see it bubbling).
- Keep at rolling boil for one minute. (Have your timer handy for this).
- Add pre-measured 7 cups of sugar to boiling juice.
- Stir until dissolved.
- Bring to a rolling boil again. Let it boil for exactly one minute and remove from heat. If you add 1/2 tsp. of butter it will reduce the foam on top.
- Skim off foam and ladle jelly into sterilized jars about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the top.
- Wipe any excess jelly from rim of jar and put lid on top. Screw on rim.
- You will know it's sealed when you hear the lid pop later.
See how the skins are popping?
This is what it looks like once the juice has been cooking with the sugar.
See??? Easy schmeezy. Give them to friends, family or clients and I promise you they will be coming back for more.