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Scuppernong Jelly

Muscadines are wild American grapes native to the Southeast. Scuppernongs are a variety of muscadines. Both grapes have a tough, thick skin that ranges in color from deep purple to greenish bronze.
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: jam, jelly, preserve
Servings: 8 cups
Author: Virginia Willis

Ingredients

  • 32 cups scuppernongs or muscadines, about 12 pounds
  • 6 cups sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Instructions

  • Wash the fruit and remove the stems. Place the fruit in a large bowl, and using your hands, a fork, or a potato masher, squeeze the grapes. Place the fruit in a large, stainless steel or enamel pot, and using your hands, mash until no large pieces of fruit remain. Add just enough water to keep the mixture from sticking and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low, and simmer until very juicy, about 20 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a jelly bag and allow to hang over a bowl for at least 6 hours or overnight. (I usually hang it on a cabinet doorknob over the kitchen counter and place a pot or large measuring cup underneath.) Measure the juice; you should have about 8 cups.
  • When you are ready to make the jelly, place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. (This will help with cleanup for any possible spills.) Place several small plates in the freezer to use later to test the consistency of the jelly.
  • Sterilize eight 1/2-pint canning jars and lids in boiling water. Remove the jars from the water and place upside down to drain on the prepared rack. Place lids in a small saucepan over very low heat to simmer while you prepare the jelly. Do not boil the lids.
  • In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the scuppernong juice (you should have about 16 cups, or 4 quarts), sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. The mixture will bubble up, rising high up the sides of the saucepan. Using a slotted spoon, skim off any light-colored foam as it collects on the edges. Cook the jam until it reaches the jelling point, 220°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes. (Dribble a few drops on the frozen plate; if the jelly is about to set, it will crinkle on the plate when you push it with your finger.)
  • Remove the jam from the heat. For each jar, insert a canning funnel and carefully ladle in the jelly, allowing at least 1/4 inch of headroom. Clean the rims of the jars with a clean, damp towel, and tightly secure the lids.
  • Using tongs, place the jars on the rack in the canner. The water should cover the jars by at least 1 inch. Cover the canner. Return the water to a boil and boil gently for 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the jars to a towel to cool. If the seal works and fits properly, the metal lid will be slightly concave within 24 hours of processing.
  • Store the unopened jars of jam at room temperature for up to 1 year. Once the jam is opened, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
  • Variation: For refrigerator or freezer jam, transfer the mixture to sterilized freezer-safe plastic containers or freezer-safe jars with lids, leaving 1 inch of headroom. Freeze for up to 1 year or refrigerate for up to 1 month.