The idea of making your own natural fruit-pectin may have never crossed your mind, but when you realize how easy it is to make a homemade natural fruit-pectin you’ll be adding it to your yearly list of items to be preserved.
Commercial pectin, you know the white powder in a box, has been used for years and there really is nothing to it. You simply follows the instructions on the box, and more times than not, your jelly or jam will set perfectly! But what if you could make your own natural fruit-pectin? We do and have been doing so for the past 3 years.
I’m going to be straight forward with you, it is not the same as commercial pectin, the process in making it quite long, it is a guessing game on how much to use for your canning recipe, and it may leave a hint of apple flavor in your jam or jelly. I’m guessing that I have you wondering, “Why on earth should I make and use a homemade fruit-pectin if it’s really that complicated?!“
Well, because it’s a natural, chemical free item that containing no possible GMO products. Period. There is not other reason than that.
Our recipe for a homemade natural fruit-pectin consists harvesting unripe, hard, tart apples or crab apples; note: the riper the fruit the less pectin it will contain, so you will want to harvest early into apple season. We have been able to harvest apples by:
- Forage for them. Foraging for apples has become a fun pastime for the little ones. Though I may find pulling over on the side of the road and tromping through tall grass, while fighting with blackberry vines to be cumbersome, they get a kick out of it and we get all the free apples we need.
- There has been a year (or 2) that I will take the easy route and ask the kind neighbor down the street if we could pick from their mini orchard. Yep, my idea of quick and easy…not so much fun for the little ones, but much easier in the long run!
The process in which I use to make pectin is the long one, and when I say long, I mean it’s a very long process. I find that there is less apple sediment in the final product by going this route, and that is the goal you are striving for. There is a quicker method to make fruit-pectin which takes less than an hour, but I didn’t think it produces a good product in the end.
Once you have gathered your apples you will want to wash them very well. I like to soak them in a white vinegar and cold water solution (1:2 ratio) for about 15-30 minutes in order to remove any bugs. After soaking the apples make sure to rinse them very well in clean water.
Next, cut apples into quarters keeping the skin and seeds ~ a large percentage of an apple’s pectin can be found in the seeds and skin.
Once the apples are cut and placed into a pot, you will need to fill the pot with just enough water to cover the apples; to much water will dilute the natural pectin in the fruit.
Here’s why I say our method takes so long, the apples are cooked on low for roughly 12 hours until an applesauce like texture is achieved. Remember, the goal is to have as little sediment as possible in the fluid, and only cooking it slow and low will allow for this.
A good patch of homemade natural pectin will have a slightly slimy and sticky feel to it, but if you’d like to be sure that you have a high pectin product try this test:
- allow the pectin to completely cool
- pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol into a container
- add a teaspoon of the cooled pectin to the rubbing alcohol
- if the mixture coagulates into a jelly like mass and you can pick it up with a fork it is consider strong, and is perfect in setting your jam or jelly
- if you can not pick up the mixture with a fork, then recook the pectin for another few hours and run the alcohol test again
Once the cooking process is completed you will need to strain the pulp. I use a very fine strainer, but using a cheese cloth will help you make sure there is no apple sediment in your pectin. Make sure to not press or squeeze the apples, simply allow it to strain naturally. Pressing or squeezing the cooked apples will create a cloudy pectin full of fine apple sediment, which in turn will make your jelly or jam cloudy.
I like to strain the pectin into a 1 gallon glass vessel with a pour nozzle, this makes it easier to fill canning jars
Natural fruit-pectin can either be frozen or caned for storage, and since we have limited freezer space canning it is our only option. Make sure to follow the proper methods in preparing your jars, fill the mason jar leaving a 1 inch head space, and hot water bath for 15 mins.
Homemade pectin can keep for about a year if you do not plan on using it right away, but keep in mind that the longer it is allowed to sit it will begin to loses it’s strength.
How To Use Homemade Natural Pectin
With natural pectin you will need to throw out all the information you know about using a commercial pectin. The amount of pectin you need will depend on the type of fruit you are putting up, and the amount of sugar or honey will remain the same.
Through the course of trial and error, I have learned to add a 1/2 cup of pectin at a time to the recipe until it jells to my satisfaction. There is no precise measurement for homemade fruit-pectin, it all depends on the strength of the pectin you made and the type of fruit you are preserving. Sorry, that is the truth of the matter.
Many wonder if using a homemade fruit-pectin will alter the flavor of the jelly/jam and the answer is, it could. If the apples you used to make the pectin were quite tart it can produce a very tart pectin.
With so many “what-ifs” in making this I am sure you are wondering if you should even bother. Just ask yourself this question, is learning how to make and use a natural product better than a commercial product. Let me help you answer that. Yes.