Homemade Pectin

DSC_2347In my quest to grow all the things and/or use all the things already growing, I found this interesting blog post showing how to make your own pectin. I realized last year that my nephew who is allergic to corn products cannot eat jam made with commercial pectin because it contains corn products. Last year I tried making strawberry jam without pectin — well it certainly contained no pectin, but it was a lot runnier than I’d like. Still acceptable when said nephew came over and needed jam, but not the best thing I’ve ever done. This year I made a batch of black raspberry jam sans pectin, which worked wonderfully but because you have to cook it down so much, it used a lot of those precious berries for very little jam. Not sure it was worth it although I’m sure my little buddy will enjoy it, as will I.

Enter the idea that you can make your own pectin. From crabapples grown on your own trees (which would otherwise go to waste). Naturally I had to try it. I did mostly follow the instructions provided here but for posterity’s sake, here’s the steps I followed:
  • I picked a bucket full of crapapples (while throwing the ball for the puppy as a bonus)
  • I washed and pulled off leaves and stems and tossed mushy ones. This was honestly the most time consuming part of this project and I got a little bored.
  • Then I filled two stockpots with around four inches of water and then added the washed crabapples.
  • Boiled them down for awhile (I can’t possibly be expected to keep track of these things- I was washing my floors, getting the puppy out of trouble, and general tasking around the house). But it was probably half an hour? I wandered through the kitchen stirring occasionally and checking to see how mushy the crabapples had gotten.
  • Once they were good and mushy, with the skins splitting, I strained them through an old t-shirt in a bucket. I let it drip maybe 15 minutes and then threw the mushy apple flesh into the compost.
  • Then I did the pectin test from the website, which was just as simple as she says. You put rubbing alcohol into a small bowl, add a spoonful of the pectin, let it cool and see if it firms up. It firmed right up so I could move on without any more cooking down.
  • Pour hot pectin into hot sterilized jars (pulled them right out of a steamy dishwasher). Put on lids and rings.  The jars seemed to seal right up – although I was uneasy about not canning them in a hot water bath**.
  • Voila! Canned pectin.
  • Now I need to find something to make jam with to see how well it works.
  • MAKE ALL THE THINGS.
I’m here to tell you it is possible and really quite simple. For the cost of $0 and an hour or two of my time, I canned 6 pints of pectin from the crabapples that already grow in my yard. Not bad at all. (If you would like this same self sufficient feeling and pectin without corn products, please come take some crabapples from my yard- there’s plenty to go around!)

**The only thing I felt not so great about was the canning part. On the blog I read, she said just heat the pectin up and then used heated jars. I did both and they seemed sealed, but a couple days later, one of the jars had mold on the top of it. Hmmm. I hot water bath canned the rest (which looked fine) because I wanted to be sure there was a good seal. No trouble from there on out.

Tonight I used some of my homemade pectin for jam tonight and it worked! I should mention that it uses a lot of the homemade pectin per batch of jam though. The recommendation is 4-6 T. of homemade pectin for every cup of prepared fruit. So I made peach black raspberry jam with 5 cups of fruit, so I used 6 T. pectin x 5 c. fruit = 30 T. pectin / 16 T. per cup = 1.875 c. pectin. (And because I’m a hack I used 2 whole cups which seemed to do the trick.)

2 thoughts on “Homemade Pectin

    • Apparently you can also make pectin with regular apples. I guess they are best when they are slightly underripe. Someday maybe I’ll try that too, although I have such an over abundance of crabapples this year, it might have to be another year 🙂

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