Follow by Email

Saturday, August 11, 2012

You Say You Want to Make Some Pectin

I periodically share a recipe with your that includes some of my homemade apple pectin. There is really nothing wrong with commercial pectin. It's made from fruit, but it's very processed. Commercial pectin reduces cooking time, which can be desirable. But a short cooking time isn't the best if you don't want your fruit to float, or if you want to infuse an extra flavor, such as from vanilla beans or cinnamon sticks. Silly me, I like the challenge too. I think I'm getting to know the fruit better when I work with its own pectin. If I discover that it just won't set up on its own, I can add some of this apple pectin for the second try.

I didn't even know you could make your own concentrated pectin until I saw this post from Tigress in a Jam. It's really easy. She cans hers, but I like to keep them in the freezer.

My father-in-law has a McIntosh tree. He  LOVES his Macs! The last couple of years, I've gathered the apples that fall to the ground when they are still green to make pectin. You can make pectin from any unripe apple, or you can use granny smith apples. They are loaded with pectin. You can also make pectin from quince, but they are so fragrant and their reduced juice so red, that they will not hide in your jam like this apple pectin will.

This is one of those recipes where you can use any amount you happen to have on hand. I package it in 2/3 cups portions in freezer bags. This seems like the right amount from most batches of jam. My experimental jams tend to work with 6 to 8 cups of prepared fruit. Sometimes I break them in half for medium-pectin fruits or mixtures that include a high-pectin fruit.

Apple Pectin
Apples - unripe or granny smith
Water to cover the bottom of your pan by 1 inch

Wash the apples. If they have any bruises or wormy spots, trim them away. Chop the apples into 1 inch pieces. Use the peel, cores and seeds. These have a lot of the pectin. Add the apples to a large pan and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the apples are very tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Process the cooked apples through a food mill to remove and discard the skins, cores and seeds. Place a large colander, lined with 3 or 4 layers of cheese cloth, over a large pot. Pour the apple puree and allow it to drain for several hours or overnight. Remove and discard the pulp and cheese cloth.

Bring the remaining juice to a boil. Reduce to a low boil and simmer until it is reduced by half. It will turn slightly pink as it reduces. Allow to cool and measure 2/3 cup portions into marked freezer bags.

Add to low-pectin fruits when making jam. Unlike commercial pectin, this is added at the beginning. Use the frozen spoon and saucer method to test for doneness.

Now, when I share a recipe that includes this good stuff, you will know how to make it for yourself!


  1. Homemade pectin is a great idea--thanks for the tutorial! Now to never buy commercial pectin again... :)

  2. since you add at the beginning, how do you know how much to use for a recipe? Is the 2/3 cup roughly equivalent to a box of pectin (certo or pomonas)?

  3. Michelle - working with natural pectin is a pretty inexact science. I've found this amount is about right for my batches, which are usually somewhere between 6 and 8 cups of prepared fruit. I haven't used Pomona's. With Certo, you usually add and bring to a hard boil for one minute then remove it from the heat. Using this apple pectin, you may be cooking your jam for 40-60 minutes before it reaches the gel stage. So, you are cooking out the water, concentrating the flavor and activating the pectin to gel. As long as you don't add this to high-pectin fruits, like blackberries, quince, pears, gooseberries, etc, it should work out just fine. Good luck!

  4. This is the place to be! Everything is organic and healthy.

    jrs law dui

  5. I know this is an older post, but I just did this and my jelly didn't firm up =( Any idea of what I could have done wrong? I used 3 pounds of green apples and followed the recipe and boiled it down. I didn't cook it for more than an hour because they started to mush up and then I pressed the juice out of the bag. It turned pink and it firmed up slighting and I added it before the sugar. I tested the pectin level but it never showed up =( I added the ENTIRE batch of pectin and still nothing.

    1. Sorry JB! What type of jelly were you trying to make? Jelly can take a lot of sugar to gel too. I admit, I've had my share of too soft or too hard. Were you trying to make apple jelly? This recipe is more like a pectin booster shot for fruit cooked by traditional (long) methods. Let me know more about what you did and we'll see if we can figure it out.

    2. I was making orange spice jelly. It is soooooo good! Even if it doesn't gel I'll probably use it as a pancake syrup or something because is way too good to waste. These are Christmas gifts for our family, and my brother in law is allergic to corn, which is what citric acid is made with, which is in commercial pectin =( So I cant' use box pectin like I usually would. And if I can get this recipe to work, then I won't ever need to! =)This recipe called for 3.5 cups of sugar, just for making 4 pints! I cooked it for as long as the recipe called. I'm going to remake some more pectin today to see what I get and well...if it doesn't work then I'll have a very tasty syrup I guess!

    3. Orange spice sounds yummy! As I said, I've had my share of "syrups". I do like a softer set as opposed to a hard, gummy set. Sounds like you had plenty of sugar too. If you didn't, try adding some lemon juice too. When I started making jams without commercial pectin, I was using a thermometer to see when things reached the "gel" stage, but I found this unreliable. I now use the freezer test. Check out my post on getting started. There are some photos about how to tell when it's done. You may just need to cook a little more of the water out. Seems like it always takes longer than I think it will.

  6. Interesting blog all information are very important for me about the Pectin need it thank you.