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The end of summer brings the harvest of grapes on The Farm. Severe drought conditions have been a constant on The Farm for the better part of this summer but somehow the grapes made it through and have turned out surprisingly well. I haven’t gotten into the wine-making craze yet but still find many uses for all the grapes, especially my family’s favorites: grape juice and grape butter. You may remember the apricot butter I made in July – a wonderfully thick and delicious fruit spread with just two simple ingredients: equal parts sugar to fruit. This is the same recipe with grapes and has become my only way to make a preserve with grapes. Once you try this you will never want any other grape preserve. That’s a promise!
I also made a video of this grape butter, so make sure to check it out!
- 6 cups homegrown grapes
- 6 cups granulated sugar
- To prepare the grapes, pick them off the stems, making sure to discard any rotten or shriveled ones. Wash the grapes well. (As a rule, my Grandma always said to wash three times.)
- Start by covering the grapes in a pan with water, letting the loose dirt come to the top. Pour off the dirty water, repeating for a total of three times.
- Place grapes and sugar in a heavy-bottomed or nonstick stockpot. Stir to incorporate the sugar and grapes and turn the stove on to medium heat to begin the cooking process.
- Bring to a rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down). Once at a rolling boil, turn the stove to medium-low or low heat to keep the butter boiling without boiling over. Time for 20 minutes. Since the last amount pushed through the strainer will be much thicker than the first, it’s important to stir the grape butter well to incorporate.
- Once cooked, press through a conical strainer (affiliate link), wiping down the sides of the strainer a few times. Push through the strainer until only some dry skins and seeds are left.
- Pour into washed and sterilized jelly jars. Clean off any butter that may have dripped onto the rim and sides of the jars.
- If desired, this recipe can be canned for long-term preservation (see my canning 101 video for tips). For this recipe, the paraffin method is used to seal the jars. Heat paraffin slowly on the stove and pour a ¼-inch layer over the grape butter, swirling slightly to make a good seal. Let dry.
- It’s important to note that store-bought grapes purchased for eating will not work for this butter. You’ll need to use a home-grown variety, which differs from those purchased at a store. Try looking at a local farmer’s market or roadside shop.
- I cover my entire countertop with newspaper when making grape butter. The butter is very sticky so this makes for quick and easy cleanup!
This morning while taking my morning online stroll through pinterest, I found you. Instantly an attachment was made between your wonderful Gray Boxwood Farm and myself.
As for the grape butter, it looks delicious! My sister has a small private orchard in which she grows many fruits with grapes being a nice size section in the corner of her property. Lucky for me, when she is finished harvesting she leaves enough for me to pick whatever my heart desires. Next week is my turn and will be picking extra to try this recipe.
A new and very happy follower,
Valerie, thank you so much for your sweet note! We are so glad you found us and are excited about who we are. I hope to hear how your grape butter turns out when you make it. Cheers!
The butter looks absolutely scrumptious!! I was just wondering why store-bought grapes won’t work? And is the sugar only used to make it sweet? Will it make a huge difference to the consistency if I reduce the amount of sugar?
Hi Regina! Thanks for stopping by, yes the sugar is used to sweeten the butter but also thickens. If you cut down on the sugar I’m worried that the outcome won’t be as desirable. As far as grapes, this recipe needs Concord grapes which are very difficult to find in a store. Store bought grapes are cultivated and grown differently than this type would be. Concord grapes are grown for grape juice and preserves such as this, try a farmers market or a vineyard. Hope this helps!
FWIW, I live in southern NH and often see Concord – especially seedless Concord – grapes in mainstream grocery stores in mid to late summer. Sometimes they’re just labeled “purple grapes” or even “black grapes” as the ones we get are so dark as to almost be black, but that distinctive globe shape and the VERY rare sneaked nibble if I’m quite determined to buy and just want to triple-check 🙂 can help you tell what’s what. The standard year-round supermarket grape, the red and green Thompson seedless, are pretty epic fails for any canning IME just due to simple lack of flavor except for “sweet”. I got hold of a flat of “champagne grapes” aka Corinth grapes (the tiny, tiny, superexpensive pinky-purple ones about 1cm across) by sheer luck last year – a local caterer overbought for a wedding and word got back to me. That’s the variety that becomes “zante currants” when dried. Very flavorful. They made a smashing grape jam, so crazy easy because they’re seedless and the skins are fairly tender so I could just whiz the dickens out of it with a stick blender. I used a combination of long, slow cooking (crockpot with a splatter shield over top) and a tiny bit of Pomona pectin to keep the sugar waaaay down, basically just enough for taste, due to all the diabetics in my family who still like to eat tasty things but prefer not to use the artificial sweeteners, and still get a nice consistency.
On my way out now to pick some totally-unknown variety of grapes growing in someone’s back yard… they were there when my acquaintance moved in and he doesn’t really want that many, so knowing that I can/jam he invited me to come load up in exchange for a jar or two of the finished product. I know they’re not Thompsons, they don’t grow that well here, and I know they’re not wild fox grapes or river grapes (which are super puckery but make very nice jelly, if a bit of a time suck and sugar black hole) because they’re eating some off the vine, but I’m sure I can manage to figure something out to do with them.
Mari- you seem like quite the seasoned jam maker, I love that you are willing to try different grapes you can find and make jam! Honestly the type of Concord grape I use and talk about is very hard to find in “conventional” supermarkets, seedless concord are different. I have seen the old type of concord grape at farmers markets but it sounds like your friends grapes are probably what I use. Usually the old varieties are a good bet! Hope you’re enjoying your jams!
Actually, I found the seedless Concords did work surprisingly well for jam, although they’re less astringent than the old-fashioned type so you need less sugar and an extra splash of lemon, but they still had a good grapey flavor. I got a few pounds of them for almost nothing on a local store’s discounted produce rack because there was a bit of mold on a few grapes (maybe half a dozen in each pound box) and my standard response to free or near-free fruit is “turn it into jam”! We do get the classic seeded Concords – sweet insides, eyewateringly sour skins – in the regular grocery stores from time to time too though… maybe it’s just us stubborn New Englanders who don’t mind spitting out seeds. 🙂
I’m really not an old hand at jamming at all, I’m just adventurous and willing to fail (probably 20% of my “concoctions” have ended up in the compost!)… I also prefer working with small batches of maybe half a dozen jars at a time because my apartment has a tiny kitchen and a pathetically underpowered stove, which gives me a lot more practice than doing a few massive batches of a single flavor or fruit like our great-grandmothers did. I ended up with almost 17 pounds of those grapes I picked at my friends’ house last weekend and after a lot of quality time with my food mill it became 2 1/2 gallons of smooth purple puree. That was turned into a plain grape jam for PB&Js, a jam with gin and elderflower liqueur (a take on a cocktail I saw on another website), a savory conserve with basil, thyme, balsamic vinegar, walnuts and honey (I think it’ll be good with goat cheese), and the rest is currently burbling quietly away in my slow cooker with cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cloves, peppercorns, and star anise to become spiced grape butter. My Christmas boxes will be very interesting!
So delicious! My grandma always made grape butter when I was a kid! Thanks for the inspiration to carry on her tradition, Kaleb.
I ran across this recipe today and made it this evening, it is wonderful!
if you use the wax how long will it keep and where can you store it
If the wax is done correctly if will keep a good seal up to 6 months. It is best stored in the fridge. I must admit since this post I have started to seal all jams and butters, prepare jars and lids, fill with boiling butter and waterbath for 10 minutes. Then they will store up to one year.
Wow your Grape Butter recipe reminds me of my Grandmothers recipe and our family recently devoured her last jar of Grape Butter during her 98th Birthday breakfast and I was looking for a recipe to compare to hers. I want to recreate her recipe this summer and thanks for your tips and I will compare hers recipe with yours and let you know how it turns out.
Thanks The Gray Boxwood
I made this and it taste wonderful, but it is more like syrup than jam. We love it and are pouring it over pancakes etc., but would like to make it again and figure out what I did wrong that it did not come out thick enough? I would like to try putting some pectin in it as my chef daughter says all fruit without a stone needs pectin, I totally grew these grapes so that was not the issue, but again it taste wonderful, and I just picked another huge bowl of grapes……….ideas???
Maybe just cook a bit longer. My mom used the check method of putting a small saucer in freezer until really cold. After boiling the grape butter for 20 minutes or so she would check if it was ready to jar by placing a spoonful of the butter on the very cold saucer and then turn the saucer vertical. When the butter was ready it would thicken and not run down the plate. If it was too watery she would continue to boil a few minutes and test again. You must have a really cold plate for this test. But it works and no added pectin needed.
Made today. Amazing! And amazingly simple to do. I cooked mine for 25 minutes and it’s perfectly set. Got 6 of the half pint quilted Ball jelly jars. Going to make another batch tomorrow. And I used paraffin to seal. Have using paraffin on jams for 50 years with no problems. Thanks for the recipe.