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Homemade Pectin

27 Sep

Okay, this is barely a recipe.  It has two ingredients and the most complicated technique required is boiling water.  But I have mentioned homemade pectin in several of my posts, because it’s what I use to make jam around here.  Previously, however, I neglected to mention how to make pectin at home, which is sort of unfair, right?

So, here you go.  Bear in mind that fresher, smaller apples and apples such as green apples and crab apples are best for homemade pectin.  I used the apples we got from our CSA, which worked fine.  Overripe apples have very little pectin in them, as I understand it, so try to use fresh apples.  You can also use just the the cores and peels if you want to use the flesh of the apples for baking or apple sauce or apple butter, but use several dozen apple cores and peels if you do so.

Furthermore, when you use the pectin to make jam or jelly, it becomes a bit more of a guessing process than using store bought pectin.  You’ll need to test your jam a few times to make sure it is set up.  It depends entirely on the strength of your pectin, which is determined by the apple type, apple freshness, length of initial boil, length of second boil, and a variety of other factors, I’m sure.  The second boil tends to be the most important.  I don’t like the pectin super concentrated, because it’s then very, very easy to use too much in your jam and have a jam or jelly that is way, way too stiff.  I like to freeze the finished pectin in one or two cup increments, because it makes it easy to fool around with the amount required to get my jam set up the way I want it.

The good news is that the process is incredibly easy, incredibly inexpensive, and incredibly hard to screw up.  All it requires is boiling.  And when it comes time for jam making, it’s very easy to just add more pectin, if it’s not as strong as you initially thought.

Homemade Pectin

2 dozen apples, scrubbed clean and quartered


Add apples to a large stock pot.  Cover with just enough water for the apples to float.  Bring to a rolling boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil.  Boil gently, covered, for 2-3 hours or until apples are soft, mushy, and beginning to disintegrate.

Line a colander, placed over a medium stock pot, with a fine mesh sieve.  Pour the apples through the colander.  Cover with a stock pot lid.  Let drain several hours, or overnight.

Discard the solids.  Place the drained pectin over medium heat on the stove and boil until reduced by about half.  Let cool.  Transfer to 1 cup Tupperware containers and freeze, or can as desired.

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