How to Make Homemade Pectin This Canning Season

Try a DIY pectin for your homegrown jams and jellies.

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Homemade Apple Pectin

Homemade Apple Pectin

Homemade apple pectin.

Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

Pectin in an essential ingredient when making jams and jellies. It’s a carbohydrate found in the skins and cores of most raw fruits. It is what cements the fruit’s cell walls together. When pectin is dissolved in a solution, it forms a mesh that traps liquids. When pectin is heated with the correct amount of sugar and acid it forms a gel, giving jams and jellies their texture.

Pectin is sold as a powders and a liquid in the canning section of most grocery stores. It makes jam and jelly-canning simple and consistent. The downside is that many commercial pectins require you to add a large amount of sugar in order for it to set properly. For the average home preserver, knowing the relative levels of natural pectin in fruits will help you make jams and jellies without buying the commercial stuff, and avoid an overly sweet end result.

What Fruits Have High Levels of Pectin?

The amount of pectin will vary from fruit to fruit. Underripe fruit generally has higher levels of pectin. The pectin is higher in the skins and cores of the fruit rather than the flesh. According to the National Center for Home Preservation, some fruits that contain high levels of pectin are:

  • Apples, sour

  • Blackberries, sour

  • Crabapples

  • Cranberries

  • Currants

  • Gooseberries

  • Grapes (Eastern Concord)

  • Lemons

  • Loganberries

  • Plums (not Italian)

  • Quinces

Using one of these fruits to make your homemade pectin will give you better results.

How Much Pectin to Use?

How much pectin you will need in your recipe is a tricky question. It really depends on the fruit you are using. However, even fruit known to have high levels of pectin can vary from season to season. The best way it to follow a recipe from a reliable source and test your jams and jellies at various stages during the cooking process. The National Center for Home Preserving has a comprehensive guide on how to test your jams and jellies.

Homemade Apple Pectin

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds sliced Granny Smith apples with peels and cores.
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Wash, but don't peel the apples.

  2. Cut them into several pieces.

  3. Put them in a large stock pot.

  4. Add four cups of water (or enough to barely cover them) and two tablespoons of lemon juice.

  5. Boil the mixture until it reduces almost in half (about 30 to 45 minutes).

  6. Strain it through cheesecloth or a jelly bag.

  7. Boil the juice for again for 20 minutes,

  8. Pour it into sanitized jars. You can process them in a hot water bath for long-term storage or put it in the freezer until needed.

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