By January 16, 2013 Read More →

How to Make Your Own Pectin

All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

Jams and jellies were and still are an excellent way to preserve fruit, and make a delicious treat that can be added to all forms of bread, hot cereal, and even cooked rice.  Pectin is one of the things required to make them, it adds the gel like quality to low pectin fruit, and is one of natures best preservatives.  Most people who make preserves buy pectin from the store in the form of powder or liquid from Sure-Jell or Ball.  Both manufacturers make excellent performing products, which store wonderfully for long periods of time, but the price has been creeping up on them.  Homemade pectin very economical and frugal.

The Why
Not all fruit needs pectin added to make jam or jelly, some fruits like cranberries, grapes and apples (just to name a few) naturally contain high amounts of pectin, so they only require some extra boiling to concentrate the fruit and sugars.  But other fruits, like strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, and peaches are very low in pectin and you can’t achieve a nice jam or jelly just by boiling them down.  In these cases its very handy to have pectin to add to your preserves to help the juice and sugar to ‘set’ and this also greatly reduces cooking times.  The less it’s boiled, the more nutrition will be preserved from the fruit.

Homemade pectin is usually made from apples or crab apples, both of which have an abundance of pectin.  Making homemade pectin is one of those things you can do to save some money and to learn as a self-reliance skill.  If there was ever a time when the stores are closed or sold out, knowing how to make pectin would be a very valuable skill that could help your family and community preserve food.  Just like everything else, the homemade version is less processed and by default more healthy than store-bought stuff.  To read more on how commercial pectin is produced click here to see what wikipedia says about the process.  Then decide which version is better.

The How
I usually start making pectin by making something else with apples, like pie or apple sauce or hard cider.  Then I use my apple peelings and cores to make the pectin since the natural pectin in apple is concentrated in those areas.  This way, I can still use the meat from the apples for other food.  Most other recipes for making pectin involves cutting up and using whole apples, and I always felt like I was wasting the apples.  One of my favorite ways to go about this is by using an apple peeler (like this one here).  I have several brands of these peelers and they all work similarly when properly adjusted.  They take a slightly bigger bite out of the apple while peeling which works exceeding well for making pectin, they also core and slice the apples for you making a pile of apples quick work.

 

All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

1) I gather all the peelings and the cores (I try to discard as many of the seeds as I can) and throw them into a large stock pot.  I then add just enough water to cover them and get them boiling.  Since I am boiling peelings and cores (the tougher parts of the apple) I boil them, uncovered, for an hour with medium heat, which is a little longer than most recipes that use whole chunks of apple call for.  It’s also important to note here that I usually go with the amount of peeling and cores I end up with and am therefore happy with whatever amount of pectin I end up with, but, if someone absolutely needs a recipe, start with 2 pounds of peelings and cores plus 4 cups of water (courtesy of WSU Extension Office).

 

All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

2) Once an hour has passed I remove them from the heat and line a strainer with some cheese cloth (cheese cloth is great, I prep it, and I use it a lot while preserving and cooking food)  and strain the mixture for several hours.  I try not to press the peelings as this will make the pectin more cloudy.

 

All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

3) After the liquid has drained I add it to a smaller stockpot and put it back on my stove to boil.  I start off by reducing the liquid by 30-40% before I even test the strength of the pectin.  I have found there is no need to test before reducing, it ALWAYS needs to be reduced.  Later I feed the left over apple pulp to my chickens so there is literally no waste.  Horses and cows also enjoy a pan of grain topped with warm apple pulp, especially on a cold winter day.

 

All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

4) It usually takes between 30 and 40 minutes to reduce the liquid, but it’s one of those things that I just have to keep an eye on.  At this point most recipes say to just wrap it up and be done, but when I started making my own pectin I found a simple way to test (thank you again, WSU Extension Office) the strength of it so I always end up with a consistent product.  This takes a lot of the guess-work out making and using your own pectin!

 

All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

Test for Pectin: An alcohol test gives a rough estimate of the amount of pectin in fruit juice. In a small dish, put 1 teaspoon juice and 1 Tablespoon 70% rubbing alcohol.  Stir slightly to mix.  Juice high in pectin will form a solid jelly-like mass that can be lifted with a fork.  Once I have reached the point where its solid enough to lift it out with a fork my pectin is ready for use and for storage.  PLEASE NOTE:  Do not taste this mixture.  Rubbing alcohol is poisonous.  Keep the container out of reach of children and pets.  Dispose of the liquid down your sink, rinsing your sink, and your testing vessel (I usually use a shot glass) with water promptly when finished. 

5) When I have reached the right strength of pectin I prepare it for long-term storage by water bath canning it.  Homemade pectin is completely safe to be canned there is even an approved recipe (see above) and procedure (see below) – it may not be in the Ball Blue Book (after all, Ball sells pectin) but it can be found through those handy and helpful local extension offices!

 

All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

Pour hot pectin into hot, sterilized, half pint or pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Clean jar rims, apply hot and sterilized  lids and then rings to finger tip tightness.  Process jars for 15 minutes (don’t forget to adjust for your altitude).  Remove jars and allow them to cool and rest completely undisturbed for 24 hours.  Then remove the rings, check for good seals, and label the pectin.  Store canned pectin in a cool, dry, dark place.  How much one ends up with will depend on many factors like how long the peelings are cooked for and how much the resulting liquid is reduced by.  Refrigerate and cap pectin after opening and between uses.

 

All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

Using Homemade Pectin
Homemade pectin from apples will not change the flavor of the jam or jelly even though the pectin will still smell like apples.  Homemade pectin may replace commercial liquid pectin (⅔ cup homemade pectin equals 1 packet commercial pectin).  Use ⅔ cup homemade pectin for each 4 cups of fruit.  Lemon juice should be added to prepared fruit that doesn’t taste tart (1 Tablespoon for each cup of juice) this helps activate the pectin, adds vitamin C and helps to preserve flavor and color.  Low pectin fruits may require the addition of another cup of homemade pectin solution for each 4 cups of fruit.  Try the minimum amount (⅔ cup of pectin) first.  Add pectin to prepared fruit in a large kettle and bring to a boil.  After 2 to 3 minutes of boiling, add 2 to 3 cups of sugar and boil rapidly until the gelling stage is reached.  Remember, it may take several days after your preserves have cooled to completely set up.

Please enjoy your homemade pectin!  Share pictures of your work with your friends and encourage them to give it a try as well! Leave a comment here and let us know how it worked!

The recipe listed in this article, and advice to use peels was provided to me via the WSU Cooperative Extension office.  There are MANY pectin recipes out there online, any similarities are merely coincidental.  Another notable article on homemade pectin from apple peels can be found at the Canning Granny Blog, one of the web’s best canning resources. 

 

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About the Author:

Stephanie is a writer for the American Preppers Network, a small local paper and for her blog, The Home Front. She is also the credited writer of "Emergency Bag Essentials (Swatchbook): Everything You Need to Bug Out" to be released in August 2014. "I write articles based on my own experience about emergency preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, food preservation and life around the farmstead. I grew up in a very rural area where I learned to garden, the art of canning, to hunt and fish, and to raise my own animals for food. Yes, families such as mine still do exist! I also spent 6 years volunteering for the local county Search and Rescue group where I learned a variety of survival skills and a little bit about law enforcement protocol. " "As a general rule of principle do not write articles about information that I have only read - if I am writing about something it's because of I have done it myself and gone to great lengths to provide you with the facts. I also have a full time job with an hour commute - my alter egos are as a Marketing Director, and an amateur photographer. " To connect with me --> click on one of the many little square social media buttons below!

26 Comments on "How to Make Your Own Pectin"

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  1. Phil we need help with this one – if you get a chance. Sorry to bug ya.

    • Walker says:

      Awesome to know.  I know freezer jam isn’t the greatest solution for survival, but does the homemade pectin work in making freezer jams?  That is our favorite jam and while we can, we enjoy it.  

  2. What perfect timing you had! I’m making apple butter this weekend.

    I’m new to jam making and didn’t even know I could make my own pectin. What a wonderful way to get a double use out of the apples. I was planning on composting all the skins and cores, which I will now do after I’ve lovingly saved their pectin.

    • You nailed it! Yes, that’s what I love about it too – getting yet another use out of the apples! You should find that it will compost quicker this way with everything soft and boiled down. I feed my pectin leftovers to my chickens and livestock. Of course I am always composting the end results of that as well – so I have to wait a tad longer, but there is nothing better for your garden and you’ve wasted nothing in the process. Good luck with your pectin!

  3. GREAT info.! I have ALL my supplies now, just need the produce. A trip to the farmers market will have to due until the raised beds are built & producing. Thank you Stephanie Dayle!!!

    • Takes some patience wait for those beds, bushes, and trees to start producing – but once they do, your summers will get CRAZY, but you’ll love it! Hope to hear how it goes! Thanks for the comment! 

  4. Barna Bene says:

    Great article, but I think pectin is not so important to survive :)

    • Barna,  Prepping is not just about surviving (although that is a big part of it) preparedness is about surviving though “self reliance”, maintaining a standard of living, and frugality. It’s much bigger that just surviving an emergency – it’s a way of life.  Here is an article about the 5 Principals of Preparedness that you might find helpful.  http://americanpreppersnetwork.com/the-five-principles-of-preparedness
      Knowing how to make their pectin helped our pioneering ancestors survive long cold winters, by improving their standard of living; it gave them food to not only just eat but also enjoy and nutrition that came along with it.  Using pectin gave them one more way to preserve the fruit they worked so hard at growing during the summer. We can only learn from their wisdom.
      Today making your own pectin can save you money, help keep you healthy, and eliminate waste by using something that is commonly thrown away.  It is a skill that may come in handy someday if you can’t run to the store and get pectin.
      And for the record, I never said knowing how to make your own pectin would help you to survive. But I WILL say, “Knowing how to make your own pectin will help you thrive.”  

  5. Darla White says:

    If you need to make jellies to prolong the food of fruit—over several months to years—and how many weeks is fruit fresh off the vine actually good for?— Before it rots into nothingness? Then–Yes–this is very good to know. :-)

    • I agree with you Darla.

      At my place we grow our own strawberries, apples, raspberries (three different types actually), along with cherries and blueberries. We also go out and forage for huckleberries every summer.  We produce FAR more fruit than we could ever eat before it goes bad – on purpose.  We preserve it by dehydrating, canning, and by making jams, jellies, syrups and wines SO that we can eat it all winter long.  We don’t buy fresh apples from the store in the winter, we eat what we have produced and stored.  Pectin is just one more tool in our tool box that insure we have food that we can eat & enjoy until the next harvest. 
       

  6. Eminently useful; this is a frugal tactic for food storage I hadn’t considered.  Thanks for the write-up, Stephanie.

  7. P J Maddox says:

    Thanks a lot. I just started “jamming some of my fruit.” Was shocked at how much pectin was. You can tell it is a long while since I have done this. That is one thing that always gets you about being old.

  8. Totally agree Darla! Pectin is quite important for preparedness – preserving the harvest year after year is critical. Most people these days have no idea how to make jellies without store bought pectin. Knowing how to make it at home is invaluable!

  9. Totally agree Darla! Pectin is quite important for preparedness – preserving the harvest year after year is critical. Most people these days have no idea how to make jellies without store bought pectin. Knowing how to make it at home is invaluable!

  10. Totally agree Darla! Pectin is quite important for preparedness – preserving the harvest year after year is critical. Most people these days have no idea how to make jellies without store bought pectin. Knowing how to make it at home is invaluable!

  11. Can you freeze apple peelings until you have a large amount then process them?

  12. this is the easiest recipe I’ve found!!! thanks

  13. this is the easiest recipe I’ve found!!! thanks

  14. Wallacemom says:

    Could the boiled leftovers be used to make vinegar? And THEN composted or fed to critters? Wonder if my dogs would like them…but must make sure to remove the seeds as they are poisonous when concentrated….

    • There is still alot of sugar and flavor left in the pulp so I don’t see why not. If you give it a try, Wallacemom, let us know, or me know how it turns out. I understand vinegar takes time – so no rush.