Making grape jam with Martha

Martha Wolfe

Weekend by Martha Wolfe

and I don’t mean Martha Stewart, I mean the very talented Martha Wolfe!

If by chance you don’t know Martha’s work you need to check it out! Martha makes art quilts but she’s also studied printmaking and has a background in academia in the field of Marine Biology.

Martha’s work is very graphic in nature, and as a former graphic designer I really appreciate the way she creates and composes an image, and with her background in biology, interest in nature, dry sense of humor, skill at making a mean sangria, and proximity (she lives in the same town as my parents and boyfriend Phil) so it’s easy to see why we’ve become friends.


At the beginning of July, I posted this photo on facebook, remarking about the abundance of grapes on my vine this year. Last year there were only a few grapes and the local wildlife ate what was there before they were ripe, so I never had a chance to see if they were even good.


This year the grapes were going crazy and Martha commented on my photo

“Want to make grape jelly?”

I had never made jelly before but was up for learning something new and figured it was the best use for the grapes since there were way too many to eat.

But first, I had a trip to Colorado, and the grapes needed a couple more weeks to ripen, so we made a date to make jelly on my return.

When I told Phil our plans, he said that he really preferred grape jam to jelly. I was perplexed, I didn’t realize they made jam out of grapes and he said he’s been eating a peanut butter and grape jam sandwich for lunch everyday for years. So I went to my favorite source for great recipes and found one grape jam.

The next day I picked 21 pounds of grapes from the vine and headed to Martha’s.IMG_2177
We made one batch of jelly from the first 5 pounds of grapes, then made jam from the next 5 pounds, had a taste test and realized Phil was right. Jam is better! so the remaining 10 pounds was made into jam.

We followed some of the advice from reviews and did not peel the grapes, just squished the grapes with a potato masher and partially blended them with a hand blender before boiling with sugar and lemon juice.jars

The one thing I realized we were missing was some cute labels!


After our first delicious success, Martha and I decided to make jam again a few weeks later because we both had more grapes ripening on the vine.

grape jam round label


For our next jam session I designed 2 different sized labels and printed them on avery label paper. It was fun using my graphics skills for this project.


When I trimmed all the ripe grapes off my vines, including a small batch of Chardonnay grapes and I had a wopping 30 pounds of grapes after rinsing and pulling them off the stems to bring to Martha’s the next morning.

labeled jars

10 hours and 47 jars later

marthas sangria
a job well done!


Our second batch of jam was not as thick, we learned it’s because very ripe fruit has less natural pectin, but it still tastes great. We’re going for round 3 when Martha’s grapes are ready in a few weeks 🙂

but first I need to go teach workshops in Charlotte and Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Then I fly to New England for a 10 day road trip with Phil to visit family and friends and spend 3 days on a sailboat in Maine! I’m sure I’ll have lots of adventures to share when I get back.

5 Responses to “Making grape jam with Martha”

  1. Lisa Chin says:

    I LOVE your labels. They are so beautiful and are a great asset to your lovely jam! Great job ladies!

  2. I know making jam and jelly is hard work – I’ve done it with my kumquats, plums and strawberry guavas – but I’ll bet it’s more fun with a friend!

    • judycoatesperez says:

      You’re right Cindy, I don’t know if I’d stick it out and do this much if I was alone, two people do make it a lot more fun. Mmmmmm kumquats….. 🙂

  3. amazing, My grapes are pea size… but can still taste them, if I eat around the seeds.. Raisins would be better here in CA. yours look wonderful

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