how to make: sour grape jelly


When I brought the kilo of grapes I picked in France back to London, I had an extravagant idea to make grape jelly with with a twist. I headed straight for my trusty Flavour Thesaurus and discovered rosemary is a nice accompaniment. As is anise, almond and pineapple. I came to my senses, however, once I remembered how pure everything tasted in Les Vosges and decided to keep things simple.

To be honest, I wasn’t confident it would work anyway. The vines were growing all over the place, abundant with fruit, but when I said I wanted to take some back with me, the family scoffed a little and told me they weren’t ready. They humoured me anyway, pointing to the bunches that had seen the most of the summer sun. Yes, there were a few green fellas here and there, but I hoped the jamming sugar would put up a good fight against their riper purple cousins.


And you know what? I was right… Yay!

I don’t have a sweet tooth (unless we’re talking about chocolate), so this jelly with its slightly sour edge turned out perfectly for me. It’s great on toast or served with cheese. I was also thinking about making a grape ripple ice cream, but I’m not sure. Does that sound good to you?


Print the recipe.

sour grape jelly


1 kg fresh grapes
450g jamming sugar
Preparation time: 24 hours
Cooking time: 60 minutes


Mixing bowls
Metal spoon
Sterilized jars
Jam thermometer
Muslin cloth


Sterilize the jars

To sterilize your jars, place your clean empties upright in a baking tray, then put them in an oven pre-heated to 180°C/350°F for ten minutes. To sterilize the lids, boil them in a pan for ten minutes too.

Make grape juice

Rinse and remove the grapes from their stalks.

Place in a saucepan and cook over a low heat. Use a potato masher to release the juice.

Line a sieve with the muslin cloth and place over a bowl. Pour in the grapes and juice and leave overnight.

You should have around 600ml of juice.

Make the jelly

Add the juice and the sugar to a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Once there are no more sugar crystals, it’s time for a rapid boil.

The mix should get hot pretty quickly once you turn the temperature up. Pop in your jam thermometer so you can watch its progress.

The jelly will reach its setting point at 104-105.5°C/219-222°F.

Don’t stop stirring.

Once it hits the temperature jackpot, take your pan off the heat and pour the mixture into hot jars – and seal!


If you don’t have a jam thermometer, look out for what the experts call a rolling boil. To test for the setting point, take the jelly off the heat and drop a little onto a cold plate, wait a moment then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles, it’s ready.

If your grapes are sweet, add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.

Print the recipe.

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© Kate McAuley 2013

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