I’ve been on this “make the things you use” kick for a while now, but one of the things I use and had only a vague idea that I could make, until recently, was Pectin. I use a boatload of it, due to the quantities I jam in, and it’s EXPENSIVE!!! I have been attempting to find a buy at the end of the season, when stores are having their 50% and 75% off sales, but that’s only ever catch as catch can. Thinks I this spring, when I went thru half of the supply I bought last fall on sale on the Strawberry Chocolate Jam. “There’s GOT to be a better way”. Then, one of the forums that I read posted a gem, which was a repost of a repost, and I’m totally at a loss for the original author (or I’d give him/her canning cred!). Needless to say, it detailed how to DIY. Here’s how it works.
You use apples to make your pectin. I live in apple country (god’s own!) and we’ve got apples coming on our own trees as well as all the little apples and crab apples you could choke on, mow over, throw at your spouse & children for fun, or use for pectin.
Needless to say, we’ve got apples coming out our ears. So we went out to eat last week, and in the plaza there are several large crab apple trees. Says I imperiously to das spouse…”Go and fetch me some!” So, he and smallest son walked over after dinner, while I was still attempting to get the others finished and literally shook the crab apples out of the tree, after which, smallest son looked a lot like a cat chasing a ball…It was a true rain of apples.
Now, these crab apples are oval, ruby colored, and the approximate size of a golf ball. They’re also hard like rocks, though not too bitter (yes, I tried one…). The second batch was early green apples.
The next day, I sorted them and popped them all into a large pot, covered them with water and cooked them on low until they turned into apple mush. Then, I took my potato masher to ‘em and chopped them to bits! Alternately, with the second batch, I chopped first in my food processor and then boiled. Doesn’t matter which way you do it, you get the same result. Drop the whole apple in the pot, stems & all!
After this came the draining. I used a two colander system, as I was short on pots to drain into, but the idea was to get the solids out of the liquid. You can leave it overnight, if you’d like to drip thru a cheese cloth, but I used my large colander and then my big mesh strainer (sits on the top of the sink – it’s really big) to get the last bit of liquid out.
Then you wait for it to cool. When it’s cool, you test to see if it’s pectiny enough. Here’s how – it’s much like the plate in the freezer method for testing jam, excepting well, not. You take a little bit of rubbing alcohol and put it into a cup. Then, add a spoonful of the liquid. If it’s strong enough, the pectin will come up on a fork in a glob. If it’s not, re-boil on low until it is reduced enough to give you this effect.
I will tell you some of the errors I had, though. Error 1) Do not leave your newly made pectin on the counter for 3 or more days. The fruit flies will find it and it will turn to vinegar. (BTW, new post on how to make vinegar, coming up! 😀 ) Error 2) You really probably *should* strain it with a cheese cloth, or it’ll have gritty apple bits in it. Error 3) Keep your stove really low when you are cooking this down, not just low, but as absolute low as you can possibly go. Then stir regularly or it WILL burn. 4) Not error, but different from store bought – Whatever color the apples are, that’s what color the pectin will turn. That second batch I did that went to vinegar? It was made with yellow apples and came out a lovely brown color. The first? VERY red apples, ruby coloring.
Hot pack and water bath can for 20-25 minutes in sterilized jars and a boiling water bath for pints.