Muscadine grapes are considered to be one of the most beautiful grape varieties, others would label it as the King of Grapes, rivaling the famous Shine Muscat. Muscadines may take a lot of work to grow, depending on the weather and soil conditions, but they are mostly pest-resistant which provides a better agricultural convenience to growers.
Muscadine grape jellies are a great way to preserve muscadines. The sugar just accentuates the flavors of muscadine, making it taste like wine jelly.
Muscadine Grape Jelly Trivia
- People have long been talking about the beauty and grace of Muscadines. Culinary enthusiasts would rave about how popping muscadine grapes into their mouths and marveling at their sweetness and softer texture than the average grapes.
- Muscadines are native to North America, thriving in the hot and humid climates of the entire Southern United States.
Muscadine Grape Jelly Buying Guide
Muscadine grape jellies are available in the condiments and jellies section of grocery stores and supermarkets. You can purchase either the commercially packed jams or those produced by artisan families.
It’s best to buy muscadine grape jellies during the muscadine season to celebrate their prime flavors. The best muscadine grape jellies are the all-natural varieties since chemical ingredients interfere with the aroma and flavors of muscadine grapes. Choose from different varieties such as with or without pectin, low-sugar, and all-natural depending on your preference. Some muscadine grape jellies are imported from other countries. Buying these products is great but the imported varieties have different flavors since Muscadine Grapes are highly sensitive to climate and soil conditions.
Muscadine Grape Jelly Production & Farming in Texas
Sourcing for muscadine grape jellies wouldn’t be a problem since muscadine grapes are native to East Texas. They are cultivated in slightly acidic soils and can grow healthily since they are mostly resistant to pests and diseases. Muscadine grapes aren’t picky about weather and can tolerate the humid East Texas climate.
For beginners, it is essential to use deep, well-drained, and sandy soils when planting muscadines. They should never be planted on poorly drained soils. Otherwise, the crop yield will be compromised.
Preservatives and Chemicals
Jams, jellies, and preserves are made with four basic ingredients: fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar.
Fruit is the base for any jams, jellies, or preserves. It is essential to use firm and ripe fruit for jams as over-ripe fruits will result in a liquidy set. Meanwhile, an under-ripe fruit will have fewer juices and under-developed flavors. Taste the fruits first before using them on your jam.
Pectin is essential to achieve the gel-like consistency of the jam. In simpler terms, pectin is necessary to set the jam. It is important to know the difference between pectin and gelatin. Pectin is a natural starchy substance usually found in fruits while gelatin is derived from animals. Certain types of fruits have different pectin levels. Strawberries, blueberries, and peaches are low in pectin meanwhile blackberries, currants, cranberries, and eastern concord grapes have a high pectin content.
Sugar is another essential ingredient in jams, jellies, and preserves. While people think sugar is just a sweetener, it is much more than that. Sugar is essential in retaining the shape and texture of the fruit. In the case of low-sugar jams, they have a shorter shelf-life because of their consistency. Low-sugar jams should also be paired with low-sugar pectin to successfully achieve the texture. Otherwise, the unsuccessful chemical reaction would result in a less desirable texture.
Citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid are commonly used in jams and jellies. Acids are essential to bind and form the pectin. Most people can easily purchase powdered forms of acid, but the acid of lemon juice or other citrus fruits would suffice.
Safely canning jams, jellies, and preserves are essential to maintain their flavors and lengthen their shelf-life. The Boiling Water Method for Strawberry Jam is one of the most reliable. To do this, prepare the canning jars filled with food and completely submerge them in boiling water at 212°F.
Certain measures should be done before doing the boiling water method. Check the cans to ensure they are safe for food packaging and consumption. Look for cracks, chipped edges, and even tiny scratches. Discard the jars if you can find any of these inconsistencies. This is an essential step since any small cracks or chips can be triggered by heat during the boiling process.
Also, check the rubber lid to ensure that there are no mold growths since any mold could spoil an entire glass. Never use the metal covers if there are patches or specks of rust since it can also contaminate the strawberry jam, making it unsafe for consumption.
Enjoying Muscadine Grape Jellies
Muscadine grape jellies can be eaten paired with a simple buttered toast. Gourmands love to enjoy muscadine grape jellies like how they would enjoy wine. A cobbler made from muscadine grape jellies would be a pleasing dessert for dinner. For starters or main dishes, roast some chicken breasts or wings, then make a muscadine grape jelly basting or sauce to pair.
Properly storing either commercially-produced or homemade strawberry jam will determine how long you can keep the flavor quality and shelf-life. All unopened artisan-made jams should be stored in a cool, dark place, and should be consumed within a year. although, you can consume it for a maximum of three to six months to enjoy the flavors as time will modify the flavors, colors, and textures of the jam.
Once opened, always refrigerate the strawberry jam and consume it within two to three weeks since the jams will deteriorate faster once opened and exposed to varying temperatures.
Always check for signs of spoilage before eating the jam. Those with mold or yeast growth in the lids or the glass wall and having fermented or yeasty odors should be immediately discarded.
MUSCADINE GRAPE JELLY
5 cups fresh muscadines juice about 5 pounds of muscadines
6 cups sugar
1 pc. 1.75-ounce package of pectin or 8 tablespoons if using bulk pectin + 1 spare box, to use if needed
- Wash muscadines, place them in a stockpot and add just enough water to cover the muscadines.
- Place over medium heat and bring to a full boil. (As muscadines begin to heat, start mashing them with a potato masher.)
- Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes, continuing to mash muscadines.
- Remove from heat and pour the mixture through a strainer into a large stockpot.
- Place stockpot over medium heat and bring to a full rolling boil that does not stop bubbling when stirred for about 5 minutes. Reduce to simmer.
- When the mixture is at simmer level, add pectin to the juice and stir until well dissolved. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute.
- Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Test to determine if the juice has “jellied” according to pectin packaging instructions. If not, add more pectin from the spare box, as directed on instructions.
- Pour jelly into hot sterilized jars. Skim foam off the top of the jelly. Screw the lids on jars and place them into a prepared water bath canner with enough simmering water to cover 1 to 2 inches above jars. Add boiling water to the canner if needed to cover jars.
- Bring to a boil and boil for 5 to 15 minutes according to pectin package instructions for your altitude.
- Remove from water. Place on the towel, leaving about an inch between jars. Do not move the jars for at least 24 hours. Check that each jar has sealed before storing.
- Store in pantry, unopened, for up to 1 year. Once opened, store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
It is not recommended to double this recipe. The juice will not jell or set as it should.