"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

A Filipina's unabashed chronicle of her adaptations in the American kitchen. Includes step-by-step photos on how to make pan de sal, ensaymada, pan de coco, siopao, hopia, pandelimon, pianono, atsara, crema de fruta,etc., and if you are lucky, you will find videos too!

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Concord Grape Jelly

This is a re-posting from my Old Kusina. I am posting with today's date mainly for A Scientist in the Kitchen, who expressed interest in learning more about making jams and jellies. Maybe those in the Philippines can also experiment using our very own fruits. I have seen my ex-MIL make guava jelly even without pectin, so probably we can also find out how to make jams and jellies out of those fruits without using pectin.

Children like it on sandwiches, I like it on Ritz or saltine crackers, hubby likes it (and raspberry and strawberry jams) with peanut butter for sandwiches. It is quite a bit sour for my taste, but my hubby and in-laws like the contrast of sweetness and tartness (maybe because they are used to these sour berries and grapes). One thing for certain, these home-made jams and jellies are far superior than the commercial ones.

These are concord grapes, and they are very very tart! Not at all suitable for eating in its raw form. I had about 2 pounds or more of these bunches about a week before the first frost hit us. Then I waited for the second batch, which I made the morning right after the first frost (a friend's mother-in-law told me they taste better after frost).

1 big colander is equivalent to more than a pound of them, but I had to wash, remove the green ones (choose only the most purple ones) to make into grape jelly.


5 cups prepared juice (about 3-1/2 lb. fully ripe Concord or you may use other loose-skinned grapes)
1-1/2 cups water
1 box Fruit Pectin (Sure-Jell or Ball Brand)
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine (optional)
7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl

Preparing the juice:

STEM and crush grapes thoroughly, one layer at a time. Place in large saucepan; add water.

Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place 3 layers of damp cheesecloth or jelly bag in large bowl. (I had none at the time. I improvised using a clean old pillowcase with a small cheesecloth sandwiched inside.) Pour prepared fruit into cheesecloth.

Tie cheesecloth closed; hang and let drip into bowl until dripping stops. Press gently (If you squeeze hard, you might end up with turbid jelly). Measure exactly 5 cups prepared juice into 6- or 8-quart saucepot.

(I did this juice preparation at night and let it drip overnight. Then I proceeded with the next step the next morning)

Making the jelly:

BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

STIR pectin into juice in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.

Stir in sugar all at once and keep on stirring until dissolved.

Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute (set the timer!), stirring constantly. This is how a full rolling boil looks like, where any stirring won't keep the bubbles down (hence, if the pot is not big enough, it might overflow). After one minute, remove from heat.

Skim off any foam with spoon.

Ladle into the hot jars.

Wipe with damp paper towel the sealing surfaces.

Pick the lid and screw band submerged in boiling water using the magnetic picker, then cover the jars and close, fingertip-tight.

Turn upside down for 5 minutes then turn upright again (this is when you want to eliminate processing in boiling-water canner for 5 minutes).

Set them on a place without disturbing for at least 12 hours. Then watch out for covers that did not pop in (downward concavity). If there's one, or if a jar is not full like in the upper small jar in this phot, place in the fridge and consume immediately, preferably within 2 weeks.

I also make strawberry jams , blueberry jams, and raspberry jams (which are made almost in the same manner; the only difference being in the proportions). Our family's fave is the raspberry jam, and when I did bring one to work, to go with some Club crackers, everyone loved it. The nurse travelers (a couple) who were based in Florida even expressed how superior it was over commercially prepared ones. Maybe those in the Philippines can try to make jams out of aratiles or other lowly berries we have, and adjust the amount of sugar according to how sour or sweet they are....just a suggestion for those who are thinking of going into the food business for something less paid attention to, so competition is less. This process is almost a no-brainer and will require very little capital.

(To my Filipina readers/friends in the Philippines who might be interested in making home-made preserves, a web research lead me to this site which gives the telephone number for the pectin producer in the Philippines and globally.) [That link is not valid anymore!] I know that pectin is available in the Philippines because when I was still in college (BS Biology), two of my classmates worked on a thesis involving pectin. At the time I only knew that it was a gelling agent and knew nothing about it. Apparently it can be extracted (as hesperidin?) from citrus peels, also from apples. I do wonder what fruits will not need pectin to jell, given the proper proportion of fruits to water to sugar? These are the only ingredients to making jams and jellies, aside from pectin. Guava naturally has pectin as well.


  1. Your jelly came out so pretty! I agree, home-made is so much better than the commercial stuff.

  2. Wow, reminds me of strawberry jam making in Baguio. It sounded so complicated then.

  3. Bilib talaga ako sa 'yo! I have a friend who makes these grape jellies, too, and they make great presents. I have some concord grapes in the fridge now and I'm mustering enough energy to make grape pie. Your post might just give me enough motivation.

  4. MsEllaNY, Now you have given me an idea! Gifts that are a labor of love (in other words, para sa mga kuripot na gaya ko :) )

  5. MsEllaNY,
    I was at Wal-Mart yesterday and was looking at th jars, Hubby said I really should buy a canner so I won't have to borrow his mom's. I told him that's what she'd be giving me this Christmas. Then I saw the jars especially made for gift-giving preserves. They are so awfully pretty! I am seriously considering home-made jams and jellies as gifts to my friends (not in-laws, though. We all make these preserves.)

  6. Actually, I hate to say this but I don't think you have Concord grapes at all, but wild Vitis riparia, which are very, very tart. Concords are much bigger; also, the leaves are larger on Concords, with a white fuzz on the undersides. It appears therefore that what you have is the wild grape (non-Concord).

  7. Hi Paul B,
    Well, thanks for that bit of information! I am no expert in grapes, and I go by what my in-laws or husband tell me about the fruits, flowers and trees in the surroundings, since I am not a native of this area.

    This is not wild grape, though, as my husband's ex ordered it apparently from a catalog and planted near the vegetable garden.

  8. wow! I am a lover of fruit jellies. I like strawberry, orange, guava and grapes.

  9. Hi hazel! Welcome to my site!
    I should try making orange marmalade.

  10. WOW, Manang, thanks a lot for the special mention. Can't wait to get my own kitchen and make jams and jellies. Just transferred to a new place and am still looking for a place. I'll check out where to get pectin, probably ask some of my food tech friends. My mom would love this.

  11. Gay,
    Now that would be exciting to see someone in the Philippines get into canning our abundant fruits, and maybe create a trend in some households. This is potentially a good business especially if makers will stick to quality. Homemade jams and jellies WILL NOT EVER compare with commercial ones.


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