Incredible Homemade Wild Grape Freezer Jam — Sugar-free & Pectin-free!

By , September 29, 2011

Finally, here’s my recipe for the best wild (or “Concord”) grape jam ever! The flavor really is incredible.

I’m not a big jam-maker normally. And maybe that’s because nobody ever told me that jam doesn’t have to be complicated, the way most publications make it seem. This is the easiest jam you’ll probably ever make…because I discovered by accident that you don’t need either sugar or pectin to make it!

And because it’s “freezer jam” (meaning you store it in the freezer), you won’t be sterilizing jars or canning anything. You’ll just be cooking the grapes way down, allowing the natural sugar and pectin that’s already in the fruit to do the job for you. (To give you an idea of how much jam you’ll get, 9 lbs of grapes yields about 1 quart of jam.) Then, you eat it! And if you’re going to keep it around for a while, just pop it into the freezer to extend its life.

This jam is also what I use to make my delicious Concord Grape Fruit Leather. Try it sometime!


Wild Grape Freezer Jam

Wild, or “Concord,” grapes — nice and ripe. (That’s the only ingredient!)


1. De-stem & wash your grapes.

2. Put them into a large pot, and turn to medium heat. No need to add any water to the pot — they’ll provide plenty as they heat up and burst.

3. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until most grapes have burst. The unripe ones won’t burst.

Cook the grapes until they burst...

4. Turn heat down to low, and simmer, uncovered, until the grapes have cooked down a bit. Turn off the heat and let the grape slurry cool off a bit until it’s handle-able.

5. Strain your slurry through a mesh sieve with holes small enough to prevent the seeds from going through. (A food mill might be a better tool for this step — I don’t have one, so I can’t say for sure.) This is the most labor intensive part of the whole process because you’ll really want to stir a lot and press the pulp against the sides of the sieve to separate all the liquid from the seeds and skins that will be left behind. Once this process is complete, you’ll have plenty of liquid and the pile of seeds & skins will be surprisingly small.

Strain your grape slurry through a metal sieve. The large one is nice for big batches, but the small one works too!

Strained liquid on the right, ready to cook down into jam. The skins & seeds are on the left, ready to be tossed.

6. Now that you’ve got just the liquid, you’re ready to cook it down into jam. Pour it back into the pot and turn the burner back onto low heat. Simmer on low, uncovered, until it’s thick like…jam! This may take a couple hours. Stir it fairly frequently, especially toward the end when it sticks to the bottom of the pot more readily. Keep it at very low heat so as not to burn it. You’ll know it’s done when you can drag your spoon through the middle of it and the track doesn’t fill back in.

You know it's done when your spoon track doesn't fill back in.

7. That’s it! Cool & store in the fridge (it’ll last a couple weeks before starting to go moldy), or in the freezer for long-term storage.


(Get your family to help you de-stem those grapes!)


68 Responses to “Incredible Homemade Wild Grape Freezer Jam — Sugar-free & Pectin-free!”

  1. Kelly Schoeppner says:

    So far I have cooked down the grapes for 3 hours and it is still runny…it tastes amazing but it won’t set up. Any suggestions? I did start with 12.5 pounds of fresh jelly/concord grapes.

  2. Amy Barry says:

    Just made this jam and as it was finishing smelled super caramelly. Placed it in the jar and in the fridge – when I went to taste it, it was hard as a rock :(. Any ideas as to why. Did I overcook it? I even pulled it off the stove before the spoon track “didn’t fill back in”. Maybe I cooked it on too high of heat – though it was at a very low simmer. I am going to try and turn it into fruit leather – but really bummed as I wanted jam!

  3. Marianne says:

    I picked 16lbs of grapes on Friday night, cleaned them, then cooked and strained them before putting the juice/slurry in fridge in an air tight container. Today (Sunday) I put it all in a pot to boil down (that took *forever*). I could tell that the grapes were going to be *sour* so I added 1.5 cups of sugar. Now that it has cooled down, I know that it could have used a whole lot more. I’ll be trying the leather, but in an effort to cut the sour some, I’ll be mixing some of the grape with apple/pear.

    Just to give an idea of yield, from 16lbs of grapes, I got roughly 5 250ml jars.

  4. Cherri says:

    Hi Lindsey!

    I was wondering if you could not strain it and leave the skins/seeds in? Kind of a like a raspberry jam texture? I like my jam chunky :)

  5. Angie says:

    About how many cups of grapes did you put in the batch you have pictured? I’m trying to determine timing, and had about a 2-3 gallon bucket of grapes put into it…

  6. Lindsey says:

    Of course! The process would be a lot easier if you left it all intact. The thing that the strainer or food mill does, though, is strain seeds out and at the same time grind up the skins so that they go into the jam itself. After straining or milling, you’re left mainly with seeds. Most of the skins will be in the finished product. I’d recommend straining or milling it to strain out seeds and break up skins into minute bits, but any way you eat it, it’ll be good.

  7. Liz says:

    I was very interested in this recipe as my husband is diabetic.I prepared the recipe according but found it a bit too sour. I added a regular size box of sugar free raspberry Jello which added just the right touch of sweetness and did not alter the taste of the grapes at all. Perfect!!

  8. Josey says:

    I am making it now. It has gotten amazingly sweet without any sugar.
    I can’t believe hie good it is. I’m eating it right out if the pot!
    Thanks so much.

  9. Kevin says:

    How many grapes do you put in it?

  10. Lindsey says:

    Kevin, it’s up to you. 9 lbs of grapes equals about a quart of jam once cooked down.

  11. Angie says:

    Loved this recipe! I used a hair pick to take the grapes off rather than hand picking- works like a charm :-)

  12. Jody says:

    I made my first batch of freezer jam. I was afraid that it wasn’t any good because I am used to people telling me (who do shelf life canning), that the jars need to be sterilized and I have always heard and seen recipes for way more sugar to help keep bacteria away. I didn’t put alot of sugar in my first batch, but some. I realize now, I hope, that I don’t need the sugar, or as much in the freezer jam. I seen someone asking about the seeds. I do not have a grinder to see if it would make the seeds smaller or even into a powder, but I know that they have a lot of great nutritional benefits. I put the seeds in a ziploc bag and put them on the table. I pushed hard on the top rolling with the rolling pin. I kept pushing the seeds back towards the bottom and rolling again. The seeds were not powdery but they were crushed up a bit. If you swallow the seeds whole they go right through your system. But if you crunch them up or chew them, you get the nutritional benefits of the seeds, like antioxidants. I took some of the crunched up seeds and put a little in 3 of the jars and stirred them up. Did not seem to affect the consitancy, I did use sugar and pectin though because it was the first time I have ever made jam, and that’s what the directions were in the recipe I was following. Tasted great with and without the seeds and way better then the store bought “grape” which I don’t like very much.

  13. Jody says:

    I also put my skins into a bowl and used an immersion blender to blend them down. Took a bit longer, I think that using a food processor would have been faster but I don’t have one. I had seperated the skins from the grapes (as per the recipe I had followed…again, first time making this) and the skins broke down but there were some pieces that were a little bigger and some turned to a purple juice. The only thing was that my grapes were pretty tart so I am going to not use as many of the skins in my next batch, maybe somewhere around half? Then I will also have a nice color with a little texture (and crunch from the seeds). :)

  14. Monique says:

    Hi! My boyfriend and I used these guidelines to make jam out of the concord grapes that grow on our property. It worked perfect! End result was exactly the same consistency as regular store bought jam! It did take like 6 hours to cook down, but I wasn’t bothered by that. Just did oher things and checked on it once in awhile, gave it a quick stir. We started with 15 lbs, but cut it down into smaller batches. The smaller pots finished a lot faster. It was pretty tart, but I like it. I could see how a lot of people would want to add sugar. I didn’t and I love the intense grape flavor, but even if you do add sugar it’s still a great method, because you can add so much less than most recipes call for. Thank you for posting!

  15. Monique says:

    Oh I also meant to say, I made a jar on October 1st, it only now (early December) has started showing signs of mold. So keeps well in the fridge too!

  16. Lindsey says:

    Monique, Awesome! I’m glad it worked for you. What I’ve learned is to let the grapes get really really nice and ripe on the vine if possible (and not threatened by wildlife which means then you’d have to pick earlier than preferred). I like tart stuff but totally understand adding sugar if it’s just too sour to get through!
    Thanks for commenting :)
    And yes – it’s quite slow to mold in the fridge, I’ve also observed! Nice huh.

  17. Emily Gossman says:

    Love this recipe, 2nd year using it. BUT, today I bought a Cuisinart stainless steel food mill and oh my how much easier to separate the seeds and skins! The past 2 years I used a strainer and cheesecloth BUT this food mill is the way to go! (and only about $30.00)

  18. Lindsey says:

    Emily I’m glad the food mill is saving time!! I bought a food mill once, $30 from Crate & Barrel and it seemed to do fine. However it eventually broke and I went back to using the old strainer method and I must say I preferred the strainer. So I never replaced the broken food mill! Yours may be a better design though. With mine the seeds were always jamming the thing up.

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