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How To Make Apple Pectin: Easier Said Than Done!

>1 July 2010
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Did you know that you can make your own pectin from unripened apples? Isn’t that the coolest thing ever?! For those who don’t know, pectin is what is needed to make jellies and jams; it’s what makes it “gel”. Normally, you would just go buy a pack of pectin at the grocery store… but think of how great it would be to make your own! Not only would it be all natural, but what a money saver!

As soon as I found out how to do this I had to give it a shot. See, a few weeks ago I was at Jerry’s parent’s house, and his mom told me that her apple tree had some apples on it that were ready to be picked. Well, dumb me went and picked from the wrong apple tree! I felt SO bad when we realized what I’d done. I totally wiped out an apple tree that wasn’t even ready yet! I had to find a way to use all of those bitter, unripened apples so that at least they wouldn’t be a total loss.

A big thanks to my Facebook friends who suggested I try this!

I was really excited to give this a try. After finding the right recipe, I set to work. Here’s how it’s done…

apple pectin

Gather several unripened apples; the more the merrier, the amount doesn’t really matter- 2 lbs is a good starting point. They should be hard, green, and a bit sour. Obviously, the first thing you need to do is wash the apples.

apple pectin

Next, cut the apples into pieces; quartered is fine. Keep the core and the skin as well. Add enough water to almost cover the apples; cover and heat on medium-low. It took over a day for my apples to cook down enough, though I did turn it off overnight and when I had to leave the house for a while. Keep stirring occasionally, breaking up the bigger pieces.

apple pectin

It’s ready when it looks like this, kinda like applesauce.

apple pectin

Next, you need to strain it. This will separate the pectin from the apple pulp. I put a strainer over a pot, lined the strainer with several layers of cheese cloth, and covered it to keep the bugs out. You might need to let it sit overnight, as it drains slowly. Don’t press on the mixture, unless you don’t mind cloudy pectin.

apple pectin

What you are supposed to get is a clear, thick, slimy liquid; that’s the pectin. Of course, I did something wrong somewhere down the line, and mine looked more like apple juice. Ha, it probably was apple juice now that I think about it!

Anyways, you can test your pectin to see if it will gel properly. To do so, get a spoonful of your pectin, and let it cool. Pour a little rubbing alcohol into a glass, then drop in your cooled pectin. The pectin ought to form a blob of gel, which you should be able to lift with a fork. If it is too runny to be lifted, then you’ll need to boil it down some more to increase the concentration, which is what I had to do.

But, please, don’t step away from the stove while your juice is cooking. Not even if it’s only for two minutes…

apple pectin

Yeah. That would be burned apple pectin. You gotta watch it closely, and stir constantly!

If you are lucky enough to get the clear, gel stuff you were supposed to end up with, you would use 4-6 Tbsp of pectin for every 1 cup of fruit juice when making jams/jellies. Once your pectin and fruit juices are mixed, add an equal amount of sugar (ie: 2 cups of pectin/fruit mixture to 2 cups of sugar). (Though there seem to be some discrepancies in the amount of sugar to pectin you should use.)

Then continue on making your jelly as usual. Heat the mixture over med-high heat, stirring constantly; bring to a boil and let it boil for about a minute. Test the jelly by dipping a spoon into the hot mixture. Hold it sideways; if the jelly drips off, let it boil a little longer, if the jelly slides off in one glob, it’s thick enough. Bring the mixture to a hard boil over high heat, then remove from burner.

Ladle the mixture into hot, sterilized jars. Seal, and you’re done!

Now, obviously I haven’t gotten this far yet, so I can’t say for sure that this will work as stated. If you have a different way of doing this, or you’ve found this doesn’t work, please give me a head’s up! If I’m ever successful at a second attempt, I’ll follow up with my results.

If you want to read some good articles on the subject, which go a little more into depth than this one, check out: Making Your Own Apple Pectin by Sam Thayer.

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9 Comments »

  • Kat said:

    This looks really neat! I’ll be looking for your update if it worked in jams/jellies. Thanks for posting such detailed intructions.

  • Debbie Miller said:

    Last year I made grape jelly and didnt have any pectin, I used apples for the thickener…i just mushed them up and cooked them, used liquid, it did thicken the grape jelly somewhat. It is still a little runny.

  • Tabatha said:

    Although this looks really neat especially for jelly, I didn’t use any pectin for my jam that I just made. Our recipe just called for lots of sugar. Obviously it you go with a no sugar recipe you’ll need the pectin, but I love the idea of making my own. I mean isn’t the whole idea of canning to NOT use any type of preservatives? I’ll be looking for updates if it works for you! How would you store this? Could you can it??

  • April said:

    When I make jellies, I throw in some unripped fruit as well. Usually I don’t need to add any pectin. I do this for when I process grapes, apples, pears and peaches.

  • April said:

    Debbie–I had a couple batches through out the years that have come out very runny–but they make perfect pancake syrup! Just make sure they are well sealed and label as syrup with the flavor-we have had grape, cherry and apple syrup.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Tabatha,

    I believe you can can it, for up to 3 months. You can also freeze it.

  • Bethany said:

    Hi Kendra,
    I ran across this site some time ago and it fits your post perfectly. Maybe you’ve already seen it but I thought I’d share it with you anyway.
    http://www.buildanark.net/index.php?pages/Making%2520Your%2520Own%2520Pectin!.html
    and it’s so great to see I’m not the only one that tries things that don’t always work out! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Bethany,

    That site looks really cool. It’s like everything I’m into!! Thanks for the link. I have not seen it before. I’m gonna go explore it more right now :)

  • Bethany said:

    You may have found what I was trying to send you, but I realized if you click on the link I pasted it doesn’t take you exactly to where I was sending you. You’ll have to copy and paste it including the html at the end. That should show you a pictoral of making pectin. Anyway glad you like it. They work in cahoots with http://www.frugalsquirrels.com I like their site as well when it comes to homesteading/survival stuff.

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