Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Foraging at Home – Wild Mustang Grape Jelly July 1, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 8:49 am

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!

Wild Mustang Grapes in the Yard!

Wild Mustang Grapes in the Yard!

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.

De-stemmed and rinsed

De-stemmed and rinsed

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.


Cooking down

Cooking down


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.

5 cups of juice

5 cups of juice

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!

Homemade Jelly from the Yard!

Homemade Jelly from the Yard!

Growing my own food is very rewarding, but finding food I didn’t even plant, is super cool!


11 Responses to “Foraging at Home – Wild Mustang Grape Jelly”

  1. Jake Says:

    You reminded me that I plan on carrying out my grandfather’s tradition: making mustang grape wine! I found a few recipes here:

  2. Jake Says:

    Also – the skin is what’s irritating! If you just pop out the fruit from the skin, generally it won’t cause any issues.

  3. Jim Says:

    Is it SOP to use a water bath for jelly? I’ve never done it when I make jalapeno jelly.

  4. aneelee Says:

    i am constantly amazed by the literal fruits of your labor. We will be getting a nice sunny spot ready for our first Austin garden in the coming weeks to get ready for fall. I may ping you with LOTS of questions. 😉

  5. That’s so exciting! You are such an inspiration, and always leave me curious to try new things. Thank you, Carla XO

  6. texasflycaster Says:

    Good article. Linked to it on my fly fishing site! Parents moved from Bastrop to The Woodlands, and now forage for muscadine grapes – which they discovered are different from mustangs.

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