Perfectly tart and sweet, this homemade Concord Grape Jelly recipe (Concord Grape Jam) is delicious on everything from toast to crumpets to pancakes and PB & J sandwiches, or to just eat straight out of the jar!
It’s easy to make, and a great way to use up that extra couple of punnets of concord grapes this Fall!
I never quite understood the lure of PB & J. Probably because I didn’t eat PB & J until I was an adult! Same goes for grape jelly. Jelly (or jam) made out of grapes, slathered on my toast, never seemed like the most appealing thing in the world to me. But you know, as the saying goes, don’t judge a jelly by its fruit (what, that’s not a saying?). Once I actually tasted grape jelly, I couldn’t get enough of it!
The “first” time I tasted concord grapes not too long ago, was a complete sensory memory experience for me! I suddenly had this memory of me as a kid devouring grapes that tasted exactly like that. And as it turned out, we had a concord grape vine in our backyard in New Zealand, except we didn’t know what it was! Just that the grapes tasted delicious, and I couldn’t stop eating ’em! So I’ve been eating concord grapes and loving them since I was a kid, I just had no idea! 🙂
This happy accident however, made me fall in love with concord grapes all over again.
Making concord grape jelly (concord grape jam) is really easy. However, the only problem with these grapes when it comes to making jelly or jam is the seeds. There are some varieties without seeds too, but I haven’t come across those yet. But the good news is that there are several ways to remove the seeds from the grapes, and any which way is fine, as long as it gets the job done.
How to remove grape seeds when making concord grape jelly
Some recipes swear by cooking the concord grapes whole, with the skin. While this works for concord grapes without seeds, I’ve found that separating the skin from the grapes first makes it easier to remove the seeds. This can be a tad time consuming, but it’s absolutely worth it in my opinion.
How to separate the skin from the grape pulp
All you need to do is just pinch one end of the grape (opposite from the stem) and squeeze. The pulp inside will pop right out from the stem end of the grape. But remember NOT TO THROW AWAY the skin! The skin is what yields that deep purple color in this concord grape jelly recipe (concord grape jam). Also remember that the grape skin can stain your clothes, so be careful not to get it on your clothes when you’re removing the skin.
You can push the grape pulp through a sieve at the beginning, to separate out the seeds as well. OR you can soften the pulp a little by cooking it for a few minutes, and then push it through the sieve. It’s also a good idea to blend the skin and pass it through a sieve as well, so that you don’t end up with big pieces of skin in the concord grape jelly. But this is an optional step. I sometimes don’t do this step to my concord grape jam and it’s always perfectly delicious.
How to test doneness with this concord grape jelly recipe
You can test doneness with the jelly test method. First make sure to keep a few small saucers in the freezer before you begin making the concord grape jam. When you’re almost done cooking the jam, place a little of it on a cold saucer and freeze for about 1 minute (until it’s cooled down). Then run your finger through the jelly and check how the jelly spreads/flows. If the jelly parts with your finger track and then meets up in the middle again immediately, then it’s still too runny.
How to store concord grape jelly / concord grape jam
Make sure to sterilize the bottles that you’ll be using to store this concord grape jam. If you’re planning on eating it within a week, then you don’t have to do this.. BUT, if you want to keep it for longer, then sterilize the jars/bottles first. You can do this by keeping the jars in boiling water for about 6 minutes, OR by keeping them in a preheated oven (350°F/180°C) for about 10 minutes.
Jelly test method
Then while the bottle and concord grape jam are warm, ladle the jam into the jars and close. The jars will form a vacuum seal as they cool down. It is ABSOLUTELY important to ensure that both the jelly and jars are hot/very warm when you do this. If you ladle cooled down jelly into hot jars (or vice versa), the jars WILL break due to the temp. difference (trust me, it’s happened to me!).
This concord grape jam is absolutely addictive. If you’ve eaten concord grapes before and liked that delicious combo of tart and sweet flavors, then you’ll love this concord grape jelly recipe! I’ve been spreading it on toast, crumpets and pancakes, and just eating it straight out of the jar too! 🙂 And they make the best damn PB & J sandwiches in the world too!
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Concord Grape Jelly / Jam
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
- 3 lbs Concord grapes about 6 - 7 cups
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- Lemon peel (from ½ lemon
- Pinch of salt
Place a few small saucers in the freezer before you start cooking the jam.
- Rinse the concord grapes.
Remove the pulp from the grapes by squeezing one end of the grape (opposite from the stem side). This will pop the pulp right out (see picture in post).
Place the pulp in one bowl, and the skins in a separate bowl.
Mix the pulp, sugar, lemon peel and salt in a saucepan. Cook the pulp for about 5 - 10 minutes, until the it's softened and the sugar is dissolved.
Pass the softened pulp through a sieve to remove the seeds (doesn’t need to be a fine sieve, just small enough to catch all the seeds) and place it back in the saucepan.
The lemon peel will also be caught in the sieve. Remove this and add it back in to the saucepan.
Add the concord grape skins into a blender and add about 1 - 2 cups of the pulp. Blend until smooth.
OPTIONAL - You can pass this grape skin mixture through a sieve as well to have a super smooth jam, but it's not necessary.
Add the concord grape skin mix (sieved or not), to the rest of the pulp in the saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, and bring the mix to a boil. Stir frequently to make sure that the jam doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Cook for about 45 -50 minutes. Do the jelly test (as described below) at around 45 minutes - place a small amount of jam on a freezing cold saucer. Put it back in the freezer for about 1 minute (until the grape jam has cooled down, but not frozen). Then track your finger through the jam to test the consistency.
If the parted jam flows back easily and meets in the middle again, then it’s too runny. A slightly thicker consistency where the jelly/jam flows back a little, but it's slow and doesn't meet in the middle again, is the perfect consistency for me.
If the grape jelly is still a tad too runny, cook for a few minutes longer. Test the jelly every 5 - 10 minutes until you get the desired consistency. Don’t cook for longer than 60 minutes however, as this will overcook the jelly/jam.
- Remove the lemon peel, and let the jam cool down slightly.
While the jam is still hot, ladle the jam into hot sterilized jars. Close the jars with sterilized lids, and allow the jam to cool down completely. Store in the fridge overnight, and use AFTER the jam has rested for at least 6 hours.
Store in the fridge for up to 3 months. But once opened use within 2 weeks.
Wash the jars and lids before sterilizing them. Place the jars and lids on a steaming rack, and fill the pot with water. Bring the water to a boil, and allow the jars and lids to boil for 10 minutes in the water. Remove the jars from the pot (use tongs), and place them on a tray. Fill the jars immediately with the hot jam and close with the lids.
You can start sterilizing the jars while the jam is being cooked. Then leave the jars in the hot water, until you’re ready to store away the jam.