Grape jelly makes the best PB&J, but can be used for so many other things as well. Grape jelly is pretty easy to make. Some grapes, water, sugar, and pectin and you’re good to go!
Most people use concord grapes for making jelly, but you could essentially use whichever grapes you want. If you grow or harvest your own grapes, then that is bonus points for you. When you make grape jelly, you typically make it in bulk and prep several jars and then can them for future use.
Whether you purchase grapes or grow or harvest your own, you need a solution for managing those grapes until you are ready to go through the process of making jelly. Making jelly from scratch can take time and you may need to store your grapes until you can use them.
Can you freeze your grapes and still make jelly with them later? The short answer to this is yes. You absolutely can freeze your grapes and they will still make jelly just fine. We will walk you through more of this process later in this article.
We’ve compiled a quick guide to walk you through freezing your grapes and any steps you will need to take to make jelly after your grapes have been frozen.
Keep reading to learn everything you should know about grape jelly and using frozen grapes to make your jelly.
Frozen Grapes and Grape Jelly – A Guide
If you’re going to freeze grapes and then make grape jelly, you should probably understand some of the primary parts of the process. Freezing grapes is so easy. There should be no question in your mind whether you can handle the process of freezing grapes.
Let’s start there and simply discuss how to freeze grapes for the best results – specifically how to freeze grapes that you might use for grape jelly later.
How to Freeze Grapes
Here are the steps to freezing your grapes:
- Rinse your grapes and remove all stems from them. We recommend that you select grapes that are firm in the center with a tender skin. Additionally, we recommend seedless grapes to make it easier.
- If you did not use seedless grapes, remove the seeds. This is best done by cutting your grape in half and digging out the seed. This could become a timely process, which is why we recommend seedless grapes for this purpose.
- Since you will most likely sweeten your grapes at the time of making jelly, there is no need to sweeten the grapes or to make a sweet syrup for freezing.
- Pre-freeze your grapes for best results by spreading them on a cookie sheet and placing them in the freezer for about 2 hours or overnight. You can skip this step if you prefer, but it does help keep the grapes from bruising each other if moved around during freezing.
- Place the grapes into freezer bags. Seal tightly, label and date the bags and toss them into the freezer to store until you are ready to use them.
See? I told you it was super easy to freeze those grapes! Do you want to know the best part? It’s also super easy to proceed with making grape jelly after you have frozen your grapes. There are no crazy steps to follow, you just need to allow a little bit of thawing time before you proceed.
Using Frozen Grapes for Jelly
I’ll tell you a little secret. While this particular information is specific to making jelly with frozen grapes that you froze on your own, you can also purchase frozen grapes and follow the same steps.
You didn’t hear that from us – making grape jelly just isn’t quite the same when you don’t use fresh-purchased grapes.
The primary thing you should be aware of when making jelly from frozen grapes is that you need to let the grapes thaw out before you proceed to making your jelly. Other than that, it’s pretty much business as usual.
With that in mind, here are your steps for preparing your frozen grapes to use for jelly.
- Remove the grapes from the freezer.
- For a quick thaw, open the bag of grapes and set them out at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- If you don’t want to quick thaw, you can thaw them in the fridge overnight.
- Once they have thawed, you can proceed with making jelly.
If you are planning on canning your grape jelly when you make it, you can always begin the preparation for making and canning the jelly while you are letting the grapes quick thaw. Typically, canning requires warming the jars so you can begin that process and your grapes will be thawed in no time.
Preparing Grape Jelly
You’ve achieved the purpose of freezing your grapes and you’re finally ready to make that jelly and get to work canning it away or using it on some fresh toast or your next peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Let’s briefly discuss the process of making grape jelly.
What follows is a general recipe for making grape jelly. Feel free to use your own recipe or adjust sugar levels for your preferences. This is simply to provide a basic example for you of how grape jelly is prepared.
- Start by crushing your grapes. Place them in a sturdy bowl and crush by whatever means you prefer until they are crushed to whatever consistency you like.
- Mix approximately ¼ cup of sugar with 6oz. or ½ a container of liquid pectin. There is a reference chart on your pectin that can instruct you further on specific sugar and pectin ratios for this step.
- Place the crushed grapes into a large pot. Add the pectin/sugar mixture to the grapes and stir. Bring to a boil using high heat on a stovetop. Stir frequently throughout the process.
- Once the water is boiling, pour the remaining amount of sugar (probably about 3 ¾ cups, but this could vary by recipe) into the pot. Slowly bring the pot back to boiling and allow to boil hard 1 minute.
- You can skim off foam from the top.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
Once you’ve finished this part, you will have your jelly. From this step, it’s a matter of canning the jelly if that is your plan. Canning jelly is pretty easy.
How To Can Grape Jelly
- Allow finished jelly to cool 5-10 minutes
- Stir well to be sure everything is mixed evenly
- Be sure to pre-heat your jars
- Scoop or funnel jelly into jars. Only fill the jars about ¾ full
- Water-bath canning is recommended for jelly. Proceed to can following the water-bath method. Follow times and recommendations based on the size and style of jars you used for your jelly.
From start to finish, this is a relatively simple process. In short, using frozen grapes does very little to affect the overall process, aside from factoring in your thawing time. Canning can be a time-consuming process so simply factor the thaw time into your plans when you start making your jelly for canning.
It’s so easy – we assure you that your taste buds and your toast will thank you later.
We hope that you have found this grape jelly and frozen grapes guide to be useful and informative and that you now feel fully informed to set forth and make jelly.
We’ve compiled some common questions and answers for you and invite you to check them out for additional information that may be useful to you.
Are Jam and Jelly the Same Thing?
Jam and jelly essentially follow the same process. The primary difference is that jelly uses the fruit juice or pureed fruit with no remaining chunks while jam uses the entire crushed fruit mixture and may contain chunks of the fruit used in the mixture.
How Long Will Grapes Last in the Freezer?
Once your grapes are frozen they will last in the freezer for a very long time. You can expect to get about 12 months of storage time from them if you sealed and stored them properly at the time you put them into the freezer.
Is It Possible to Overcook My Jelly?
You are more likely to overcook the jelly than you are to undercook the jelly. It is important that you boil it long enough or your jelly may be very runny. As long as you are stirring your jelly well throughout the boiling process you should not have any concern of overcooking it.
However, we do not recommend that you boil it for exorbitant amounts of time. If you feel as though the amount of time recommended in your recipe was not long enough, you should begin by extending your boiling time by 1-2 minutes at a time rather than adding 10 minutes at a time.