I know we’ve still got a little while to wait before it’s prime Muscadine season, but fall is approaching fast and with it come dreams of delicious, tart jelly made from the king of all grapes — the Muscadine.

Native to the American Southeast, these little purple globes are most rich and thick with a sweetness similar to the Concord grape. The golden variety, commonly called Scuppernongs, are responsible for that delicious homemade wine Southerners brag about all year round.

When I was little I would go with Granny to the produce stand two times a week during Muscadine season to buy up these wild grapes. I remember peeling off the tough skins and eating so many while we walked around looking at other vegetables that Granny started buying more pints than she really needed just to make sure we had enough to snack on. She was a good woman.

Once we got home, we’d spend an hour or so removing any stems or blemished fruit from our selections and then we’d take the rest of the afternoon to turn the grapes into some of the best Muscadine jelly you’ve ever tasted.

I recommend whipping up some buttermilk biscuits to go along with it. Breakfast won’t be the same.

Here’s what you need to make your own Muscadine Jelly:

♦ 5 pounds of fresh Muscadine grapes

♦ 6 cups sugar

♦ 1 1.75 ounce package of pectin

♦ 6 pint jars with lids and rings

♦ 1 strainer

♦ 2 large stockpots

♦ 1 potato masher

Here’s how you make it:

  1. Wash the Muscadines, taking care to remove any stems or blemished fruit, then place them in a stockpot. Add just enough water to the pot to cover the Muscadines. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a full boil.
  2. As the Muscadines begin to heat up, start mashing them with the potato masher. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Continue to mash the fruit throughout the cooking process.
  3. Remove the mashed Muscadines from the heat and pour the mixture through a strainer into a separate, large stockpot. Place the stockpot full of the strained mixture over medium heat. Bring to a full rolling boil that does not stop bubbling when stirred. Reduce to a simmer.
  4. When the mixture is simmering, add in the pectin. Stir until it is well dissolved. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute.
  5. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Boil the mixture for another minute, stirring constantly. Test to determine if the juice has ‘jellied’ according to the instructions on your pectin packaging. You can also check to be sure it has set by placing a plate into the freezer for several minutes. Once it has chilled, spoon a little jam onto the plate. Let it stand for a minute then push the jam with your finger. If the surface of the jam wrinkles, it is set. If it is still too liquid, continue to boil the jam for another three minutes and retest.
  6. Once the jam passes the ‘jelly’ test, pour it into hot, sterilized jars. Skim foam off the top of the jelly. Screw the lids onto the jars and place into a prepared water bath canner with enough simmering water to cover the jars completely. Add boiling water to the canner if needed to cover the jars.
  7. Bring to a boil and boil for up to 15 minutes, based on the pectin packaging instructions.
  8. Remove the jars from the water and place on a towel to cool, leaving about an inch between every jar. Do not move the jars for at least 24 hours. Check that each jar has sealed properly before storing. The jam will last unopened in the pantry for up to 1 year. Once opened, it should be stored in the refrigerator and is good for up to 3 weeks.

Kelcey Caulder is a reporter for the Calhoun Times. She was born in North Carolina and raised in Georgia. After spending the last three years in Los Angeles, she’s pretty stoked to be back in the South, where the food is good and the people are friendly. You can email her at KCaulder@CalhounTimes.com.

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