Growing food in my home garden has been very rewarding and gratifying over the years, and really makes me happy. A couple of weeks ago, I was wacking back what I had always considered some kind of ornamental grape vine, growing along my back yard fence, intermingled with a number of other vines. Because of the good rains we had this Spring, it was growing like crazy, and wrapping tendrils around everything in its path. I noticed some grape looking fruits hanging off of the underside of the vines – something I’d never noticed before, in 24 years of living in my house. I posted a picture asking if these were edible, and started doing some research. It was curious to me that the birds or other wildlife hadn’t eaten them – since my tomato crop has dwindled, surely they must be in need of food. The leaves and berries look a lot like a poisonous plant, Moonseed. Much to my delight, the consensus was Wild Mustang Grapes!
I picked a bowl full of them and started looking for recipes for jelly. They are not good for eating whole, as they are extremely bitter and acidic. But by all accounts, they make great jelly. The few recipes I found online were pretty much identical. I settled on this one.
After removing the stems, I rinsed them well. I don’t use any chemicals in my yard, but wanted to make sure they were cleaned of any leaves, twigs or other debris.
I dumped the cleaned grapes into a pot with 2 cups of water, and let them get soft, then mashed them as much as I could.
I ran the mash through a jelly bag, squeezing out all of the juice. The recipe called for 5 cups and magically, that’s right about what I came up with.
Following the recipe, I reheated the juice, then added a box of pectin, brought to a boil then added the sugar. Once the sugar dissolved and the mixture boiled for a minute, I quickly added it to the jars and processed in a water bath.
I’m not used to working with pectin, so it felt strange ladling the liquid into the jars. However, by the end of the evening, about 12 hours later, the jelly was set. The color is a fantastic dark, dark purple and the flavor is great, just like you would want grape jelly to taste like!
Growing my own food is very rewarding, but finding food I didn’t even plant, is super cool!