Get this tried and true recipe for How to Make Wild Mustang Grape Jelly. So many generations of families have made this special jelly, but not so many recipes have been passed down, until now!
Where to find Mustang Grapes?
You have to be careful when handling these grapes because they are so acidic that the juice can burn your hands and make them feel itchy. It’s not a bad burn, but enough to make your hands itch and drive you nuts!
What time of year are Mustang Grapes ready to pick?
I make this recipe in small batches for convenience and to ensure that the jelly sets. I hope you enjoy this super easy summertime treat! You’ll have grape jelly to last for most of the year.
Here’s how to make the juice:
Pour juice and grapes through a fine mesh strainer and mash with the back of a spoon to get all the juice out and some of the pulp. Discard all remaining in strainer. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
In a large saucepot combine juice, pectin and butter. Bring to a full rolling boil (will not stop bubbling even when stirred). Once boiling, add sugar all at once, stirring well to combine. Bring back to a full rolling boil and boil rapidly, stirring constantly for 1 minute exactly.
You’ll know the jelly is the right consistency when it begins sheeting off of a cooled spoon. You can also test the consistency by letting a dollop cool on a plate. Once cool, swipe your finger through it and it will not come back together very easily.
Immediately remove from heat, skim off any foam and ladle into hot sterilized jars, filling to 1/8 inch from top. Place sterilized tops and rings on jars and tighten rings firmly, but not as tight as you can.
Place jars in canner rack and lower into gently boiling water, covering tops of jars by two inches (add more water if necessary). Place lid on canner and continue gently boiling for 5 minutes. Carefully remove jars from canner and place upright on a towel-lined countertop or cooling rack and allow to cool completely. As jars cool you may hear a pop! That’s a great sound, it means your jars are sealing.
What are Mustang Grapes?
These grapes are native to the Southeastern states of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Alabama.
The leaves of mustang grapes are different than other types of grapes because the topsides are dark green and smooth and the undersides of the leaves are a light greenish-gray and are hairy or fuzzy.
Mustang grapes were named by Texas state geologist S.B. Buckley back in 1861 after a Mustang Creek where he said the grapevine grew prolifically alongside.
This particular grape variety are not for eating raw, in fact they are very acidic and can slightly burn your fingers and mouth. However, this tartness and acidity make delicious jelly and homemade wine!
You can find Mustang grapes growing along fence lines, climbing over bushes and trees and along the ground.
Tips for making Wild Mustang Grape Jelly:
- The juice may be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks before making jelly, or you can freeze the juice for up to 1 year before using. Measure the amount of juice you need for 1 recipe before freezing, that way you’ll have exactly what you need for 1 batch!
- If you notice your newly canned lids popping up and down then that means that it has not sealed. If this is the case, refrigerate this jar and use immediately.
- Crystals forming in jelly? Crystals in jelly are usually harmless and can be eaten normally. The reason for crystals in jelly may be too much sugar in the jelly mixture, or cooking the mixture too little, too slowly, or too long. Tartrate crystals are common in grape jellies (and is ok to eat).
- If you’re using liquid pectin, the recommended substitution ratio is 2 pouches of liquid pectin to 1 box of powdered pectin
Have you made any of my recipes? Post it on Instagram and tag @jennifercooks123 and #jennifercooks!
How to Make Wild Mustang Grape Jelly
- 4 3/4 cups Mustang Grape juice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 box Sure Gel powdered pectin
- 7 cups sugar
- Measure out 7 cups of sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a large saucepot combine grape juice, lemon juice and pectin.
- Bring to a full rolling boil (will not stop bubbling even when stirred).
- Once boiling, add sugar all at once, stirring well to combine.
- Bring back to a full rolling boil and boil rapidly, stirring constantly for 1 minute exactly. Immediately remove from heat, skim off any foam and ladle into hot sterilized jars, filling to 1/8 inch from top.
- Place sterilized tops and rings on jars and tighten rings firmly, but not as tight as you can.
- Canning Process:
- Place jars in canner rack and lower into gently boiling water, covering tops of jars by two inches (add more water if necessary).
- Place lid on canner and continue gently boiling for 5 minutes.
- Carefully remove jars from canner and place upright on a towel-lined countertop or cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
- As jars cool you may hear a pop! That’s a great sound, it means your jars are sealing.
- After jars are completely cool, check seals by pressing tops of lids.
- If the lid pops back and forth, the lid is not sealed and you must use immediately and refrigerate. Otherwise, you can follow the Sure Jell or powdered pectin box’s directions for re-processing.
My daughter and I made your jelly it was absolutely wonderful we had a great time doing it together thanks so much for the recipe
That’s wonderful! It’s my favorite jelly. What a great thing to do together…I love working with my mom on canning and cooking projects. Thanks for dropping by and letting me know!
Tim McElheney says
The text says “In a large saucepot combine juice, pectin and butter.”
Butter? It is not on list of ingredients.
Hi Tim. Butter is just an old method of reducing foaming. Use just a pat of butter, or omit altogether.
donna jones says
Jennifer, Thank you for the recipe!! I am pretty new to canning, food preserving and jelly making. okay, VERY new. I picked quite a few Mustang Grapes, washed, ran them through my Norpro Sauce Master II (with the grape spiral attachment….sold separately) and ended up w/ 3.5 quarts of juice. I have a couple questions!…..
1) is it okay to let the juice refrigerate for a few days before I make the jelly?
2) is it okay to freeze the juice to make the jelly at a much later date if I need to?
3) how much does your recipe make? I will be wither using either pint or half pint jars.
Thank you! D.J. (Lockhart,TX)
P.S. I LOVE my Norpro Sauce Master II. I used it when I made Dewberry Jelly last month (used the berry screen…sold separately). It worked GREAT!!
Hi Donna! We’re practically neighbors…I live in Belton, Texas! Yes, it’s okay to refrigerate or freeze the juice and make at a later date. I remember my grandma doing this often. This recipe makes about 8 to 10 half pint jars.
You know, I have never used a Norpro Sauce Master…I’ll have to look into that! Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting.
donna jones says
Made 2 batches today. Turned out FABULOUS!!
I’m so glad you liked it!
Janean Dorn says
How much butter did you use?
Just a pat or two will do the trick!
Jennifer we too are practically neighbors.
I’m in Mansfield Texas.
Wild mustang grape jelly is by far my entire family’s favorite jelly. Every August I get as many of the grand children together as I can to help me pick wild grapes and Turn them into Jelly.
This is the best jelly ever!!
Thank you for shareing your recipe, I always have used 5 cups of pure juice (no water),8 cups of sugar, with 1-box of sure-jell, and my jelly is a little soft. I think I’ll use your recipe for my next batch
Last week we harvested 4-five gallon buckets… approx. 3.5 gallons of grapes (stemmed) yieldded me 11cups of pure juice.
I had an entire harvest stay liquid a few years ago. I used butter that year for the first time. I’ve never added the butter since then. Have you ever had that jelly not gel due to butter? Possibly I had expired sure-Jell
Hi there neighbor! Thank you for reaching out. I have not noticed the butter causing any setting problems. This is something my grandmother would use, however this year I didn’t use butter at all and everything turned out great.
I seem to have better luck with liquid pectin for some reason.
I was just talking to someone yesterday at church about mustang grape jelly setting soft, and they said that if you add lemon juice to the ratio it will help firm it up. The ratio they use is 4 3/4 cup juice, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 7 cups sugar. I think I may try that with my next batch, and if it works well and tastes as good then I’ll update my recipe.
Carolyn Seals says
When I freeze the juice, I measure exactly the amount called for in recipe. That way I can make a batch whenever needed. Great recipe.
That’s a great idea Carolyn! Thanks for sharing!
My granddaughter & grandson both go to UMHB! ❤️ Love that college!
I made my first batch of this wonderful jelly an it came out GREAT! On my second batch I didn’t have enough grapes (shy about 1 3/4 c. ) Can I cook the berries down a second time to see how much more I can get?
Hi Debbie! Yes, we love UMHB too! Yes you can cook the grapes down again to extract more juice. It might be more diluted but I think it would be better than just adding more water.
Kathy Warner says
Just curious, I saw your response to this and have a question! I tried my Norpro Sauce maker with the grapes and ended up with more like a grape purée than a true juice. I did them raw, should I have cooked them first? Did you have grape purée or juice? If you had purée did you make jelly or Jam? Thanks
Hi Kathy! I don’t puree the grapes. I cook them down and mash them with the back of a wooden spoon while cooking. Then, as I’m straining off the juice, I continue mashing the grapes to extract as much juice as possible. The pulp is all discarded so that all we have left is juice to make jelly.
Patrick from Waco says
trying your recipe now.
I remember, as a child, my mother making mustang jelly. The first year it turned out to be syrup which we used all year on pancakes and everyone loved it.
Next years batch worked and we had jelly. Still to this day I eat grape jelly on my pancakes as it’s hard to find Mustang Grape Syrup.
Hi Patrick! I hope you enjoy this recipe! It’s a multi-generational family favorite!
Thanks for this recipe – we are looking forward to trying it! I wasn’t able to find enough half-pint jars at the store for multiple batches (we have a lot of grapes!) Is it possible to make with pint jars instead? And if so, would you suggest adjusting the recipe in some way? Thank you!
You can pour the jelly into any size jars that you like. You don’t need to adjust the recipe.
I love your recipe! I am new to canning, and some of the recipes I’ve seen tell you to not tighten the lid if its loose after it is cooled. I was just wondering what the difference is! Thank you:)
If the lid pops up and down, then it has not sealed. It should be refrigerated and used immediately. Otherwise, if it has sealed, then you can tighten the lid.
I’m pretty sure they mean don’t tighten the lid too tight before the water bath. The ring should just be screwed on and tightened lightly by hand. If it’s over tightened before the processing then it can cause the lid not to seal due to over pressurizing, I believe.
Eric C Nagle says
Interesting, but I have not used a water bath when making jams and jellies for probably 35 years now. If you pour the hot jelly into the soap and water washed jelly jars, tighten the lid down tight and invert the jar for 5 minutes, it will kill any bacteria that slipped into the jar. After 5 minutes, turn the jar right side up and listen for the lid to “pop”, indicating that jar is vacuum sealed. Then adjust the lid to make sure it’s good and tight.
When I was young, too, we used to pour hot paraffin on top of the jelly before installing the lid. That isn’t necessary any more.
I am so looking forward to trying this recipe. I have a Mustang grape vine on the fence row across from my house near LaVernia, Texas The main vine is as big around as my wrist!
Thanks for commenting Eric! I have heard of your method but was afraid I might need to boil the jars to ensure their safety. I’ve also heard of the paraffin…my grandma used to do that. I love Mustang Grape Jelly! It’s our family’s favorite.
I have made Mustang Grape Jelly in the past. I’ve never had much luck with Sure-Jell – it doesn’t gel for me, so I use the tried and true Certo liquid pectin. Never had a problem with it! We picked a gallon or so today at a friend’s place at Tanglewood (we live in Lexington). Grape jelly here I come!
I’ve also made Prickly Pear Jelly and used Certs – again, Sure-Jell let me down. Even found a recipe for the Prickly Pear that stated. “if you want your jelly to gel, use Certo!”
Thanks for your comment! I have used the Certo liquid pectin recently and I like it too!
Deden Elizabeth Cosby says
I loved reading all the comments others and yourself Jennifer have left in the past! I have made Mustang Grape Jelly for years now. We live in Centerville and Houston, TX. The grapes are early this year at our ranch in Centerville. I remember heating the grape liquid and the sugar first then adding the liquid pectin. Then boiling for one minute. Yes, I am now 60 and obviously could have made a huge mistake! I have never added lemon juice. What does the lemon juice do? I have always turned upside down after a water bath. Also I have a large amount expired pectin. Should I ditch it and buy new?
Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for stopping by! No…I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong, they’re all sorts of ways to go about making jelly. I like adding lemon juice for two reasons: one, I like the added tartness it adds to the jelly, and two, I think it helps ensure that my jelly will set. It was probably an old wives tale past down to me and I still use it in most of my jellies. Mostly, I like the added flavor. You can certainly leave it out. I’m not an expert on expired pectin and I wouldn’t really know. I would think that it would still be ok to use. You could always try it and if it doesn’t set, then re-boil the juice with new pectin. However, I’m not sure if it goes”bad” in terms of consuming it.
I’m so glad you commented! I love hearing everyone’s stories about their years of making Mustang Grape Jelly!
Have you had any trouble with the white crystal stuff? I’ve had it in my grape jelly before after it sits for awhile. Any suggestions?
Hi Nicki! Crystals in jelly are usually harmless and can be eaten normally. The reason for crystals in jelly may be too much sugar in the jelly mixture, or
cooking the mixture too little, too slowly, or too long. That’s about all I know about crystals in jelly. In your particular case, I’m guessing that they are tartrate crystals that formed. This is common in grape jellies (and is ok to eat). I haven’t had this happen to me, but I’ve read that after you make your grape juice, you should store it in the refrigerator 24 to 48 hours before making jelly. Also, after refrigerating, you should strain the refrigerated grape juice through a double layer of fine cheesecloth before using. I hope this works for you!
Thank you so much for your reply. I’ve not ever heard to let sit for that long. I’m sure gonna try. I’ve got a 5 gallon bucket that is destined for jelly!
Hello from Godley TX.
I made a batch of jelly for the first time last year using your recipe and it turned out perfect. I am about to try it again but I don’t remember how many lbs of grapes I need.
We also picked some wild plums, do you have a recipe for making wild plum jelly or jam?
Hi Brenda! Usually about 2 to 3 gallons of grapes to make the juice. I haven’t posted a Plum Jelly recipe yet, but I did make some this year and it was delicious! Here are the ingredients: (I use the same method as making Mustang Grape Jelly)
5 1/2 cups – Fresh plum juice, about 5 lbs of plums, halved, pitted and cooked down for juice
1 box pectin
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Did the first part of the recipe tonight and put it in the fridge. Am really looking forward to finishing this,my first ever attempt at making jelly. Thanks!
Diana Brownfield says
I have enjoyed and learned a lot from all the comments. I made jam for the first time, guided by your recipe about 2 weeks ago. We went back and picked 2, 5 gallon buckets of the Wild Mustang grapes
What happens if we used a wine press to make the grape juice from raw grape stems, skins, seeds, then refrigerated the juice immediately over night?
Hi Diana! Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I don’t think a wine press to make the grape juice will make a difference in the final product. Refrigerating the juice overnight is just fine. Also, you can freeze your juice until you’re ready to make jelly. The frozen juice will keep for up to a year in the freezer and up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
JOHN TYREE says
I was looking at your recipe and was wondering. Another website added water to the boil. Is yours just straight grapes?
Hi John! Thanks for dropping by. I usually add about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water just to prevent sticking.
Jean Roecker says
Can liquid Certo Pectin be used instead of the powdered Sure-Gel? If yes, what is the ratio of liquid to powder? Does 1 pouch of liquid equal 1 box of dry Sure-Gel?
I washed, removed stems and then crushed mustang grapes through my sieve, and did NOT cook them. Is it necessary to now boil the juice and then refrigerate overnight before making jelly?
Thank you for your help!
Hi Jean. From what I understand, 1 Tbsp liquid pectin = 2 tsp powdered pectin. However, the Certo website does not recommend using them interchangeably. It would be best to stick with the recipe on that portion.
You can make the jelly without refrigerating overnight.
Holly Highsmith says
Hi! We are actually going to make our first batch of mustang jelly this week. I have all the ingredients listed and we already boiled into juice & it’s in refrigerator. My question is: your recipe calls for lemon juice but I can’t figure out where you add that. Do you add it to the grape juice and pectin? Thanks so much! We make Habanero Apricot Jelly so I’m excited to try this! Holly
Hi Holly! Yes, mix the lemon juice in with the grape juice and pectin. I’ll go in and correct the recipe. Thanks for catching that and letting me know! Enjoy the Mustang Grape Jelly…it’s our family’s favorite!
Holly Highsmith says
Hi Jennifer. We made it and loved it! We took several jars to work with saltine crackers so people could snack on it and everyone enjoyed it! We got the grapes from our farm in Singleton(Grimes County) but we live in Houston. We had to fight our bull, he wasn’t happy that we were stealing his grapes lol. I’ll be harvesting every year now. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. It was perfect! Holly
That’s awesome, Holly! It’s one of our family favorites…we make it every year!
Hope Stehling says
Hi Jennifer, Newbie to jelly making. I just ordered the liquid pectin on Amazon. How much do I add in place of the Sure Gel powder?
Hi Hope! Well, this question is a little tough. My understanding is that it will take 2 pouches of liquid pectin to 1 box of powdered pectin. So, depending on how many batches you will be making will determine how much liquid pectin you will need.
Kevin Hutchison says
Thanks Jennifer 🙂
I just made 11 (and a half) jars. I’ve heard three “pops” so far. Hope to hear more soon. My grandma used to make this type of jelly when I was a kid (I grew up and still live in Austin) and I just picked enough grapes out in Bertram yesterday to yield 6 cups of juice. Gotta admit I licked the spoon, and it turned out great!
That’s awesome! I’m not too far from you…just about an hour north on I-35. We love this jelly and I hope it turns out well for you!