Picking Grapes – Lacto-fermented Sparkling Grape Juice – Grape Jelly & Jam

Loose Grapes Vineyard & McConnell/Eicher Ranch (Established 1894) is a wonderful, local vineyard just outside Yoakum, Texas. This was the second year they opened up their well-kept place to public picking for only $2 per gallon of grapes. We arrived at opening, 7am on the first day, just like last year; the weather and environment were perfect. We picked 10 gallons of their delicious Black Spanish grapes, joined by some friends of ours, then went to my parents’ house down the road to use their juicer for faster processing.

Check out the recipes we used below and the video of the picking and processing on our YouTube channel!


Lacto-Fermented Sparkling Grape Juice

1 gallon of grape juice from cooked fresh grapes or freshly juiced grapes.

2 cups sugar

1 cup whey

We used 1 gallon of pure juiced grapes yielded from a juicer. You could also heat approximately 10 lbs washed and de-stemmed grapes in a stockpot with a couple of cups of water, to extract the juice, and strain. However many grapes it takes to fill about a 7 quart pot or stock pot and have a strong enough flavor you like. (Maybe 3-5 gallons of grape clusters.) There are tons of recipes online using this process that would probably have more accurate recipes to cook down your grapes into juice. (Some use no water, some cover with water.)

  1. Heat your 1 gallon of grape juice and add 2 cups of sugar until dissolved and boiling. Cool to room temperature, around 80°F or less.
  2. Once cooled, stir in 1 cup of whey. (I use my liquid whey that is leftover from making homemade yogurt.)
  3. Pour into plain mason jars with lids or airlock jars. If using plain mason jars, release the pressure from the jar at least once a day by loosening the lid. (I used five 1qt canning jars with lids and bands.)
  4. Keep at room temperature for 2 to 6 days, until the drink is fizzy. Strain into a pitcher using cheesecloth and then pour through a funnel into bottles. Let the tightly capped bottles sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 days before refrigerating if needed. (We used 17 – 8oz swing-top bottles and only left on counter 3 days total.)

Check out this post I found about why you should refrigerate the grape juice and then strain before using, due to tartrate crystals.

(I don’t know if this step is necessary for these specific grapes, and it was unclear to me if the juice had to be heated then refrigerated, or just refrigerated after we juiced them in the juicer.)

For our grape jelly, we were trying to decide between using Sure-Jell Pectin for less or no sugar recipes, or regular pectin. Then we had to decide on “Quick & Easy Freezer Jelly” or “Cooked Jelly”. We went with the cooked so it would have a shelf life and not take up valuable freezer space. We also decided on low sugar pectin, because who needs all that sugar anyway?

I also ended up trying a small batch of the no sugar version and it turned out tart and delicious, but I probably didn’t need to add the pectin or at least not as much as I did in the video.

Black Spanish Grape Canned Jelly (from juiced grapes)

1 gallon prepared grape juice (refrigerated)

10.5 cups sugar

3 Pink Boxes Sure-Jell (less or no sugar pectin)

Canning supplies (I found a good post with canning prep instructions HERE)

(If you’re starting with grapes instead of juice, follow directions in pectin package. Also, use pectin package instructions to make the freezer jam.)

  1. Prepare jars for canning in boiling water for 10 minutes, then keep in the hot water. Heat lids in pan and keep warm but do not boil.
  2. Strain refrigerated grape juice through cheesecloth or a wire mesh sieve (or both) and measure 1 gallon or 16 to 16.5 cups into stockpot. (Add up to 1 1/2 cups water to make 1 gallon if necessary.)
  3. Measure 10 1/2 cups sugar into a large bowl.
  4. Combine 3/4 cup sugar from bowl and 3 packages pectin.
  5. Stir the pectin and sugar mixture into the juice.
  6. Bring mixture to a rolling boil (that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) and stir constantly.
  7. Stir in remaining bowl of sugar and return to full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat.
  8. Skim off any foam. (Optional)
  9. Remove jars from hot water and immediately ladle in filling, leaving 1/4 inch from the top of jars.
  10. Wipe jars rims and threads. Cover with the heated lids and screw bands on tightly.
  11. Place jars on a rack in canner. (Water must cover the jars by 1-2 inches, boiling water can be added if needed.)
  12. Cover and bring water to gentle boil for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely at room temperature for 24 hours. After the jars are cooled, make sure the lids are sealed and the middle doesn’t spring back when pressed. If it does, you have yourself some refrigerator jelly instead. Our lids were all popping and we knew they sealed within the hour.
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