I have been canning for years and I have never used a pectin product in my preserves. At first, it seemed too easy. Like cheating. I remember talking to my foodies friends and we all swore it off. Plus, it's a processed product and I just don't like the idea of using a product for something that is natural. Why not use the natural 'thing'. And with that, I don't use a pectin product. Here's how to make your own homemade apple pectin…….. What I DO use is the natural pectin in a fruit. Pectin is found in varying degrees in fruit, but is particularly high in the skin, membranes and seeds. Further, pectin is especially high in apples and citrus. I will often add a lemon or an apple core to my recipes to add some pectin. OR, I will make a green apple pectin! Pectin is higher in unripe fruits. As apples naturally have a lot of pectin, young unripe fruits are pectin-packed! You may add this homemade apple pectin (aka green apple pectin) to your low pectin preserves (some berries, cherries) to help with the 'set' of the jam. It's a great shortcut that you can do all by yourself. A very DIY project for the coming weeks, as apple trees are just setting their fruit.
*A note about preserving: You should always, always, follow a tested recipe when preserving. While it's good to grasp the basics of how and why, preserving food is a sensitive process. For guidelines on canning at home, check out the Center for Food Preservation.
Homemade Apple Pectin by Christine Ferber (with my very condensed directions)
3 1/3 lbs green apples (early July is a great time to pick!) 6 1/3 cups water 4 2/3 cups granulated sugar Juice of 1 small lemon
Remove stems and cut apples into quarters. Toss in pot and cover them with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain this apple mixture through a fine mesh strainer, pressing lightly on the back of the fruit. Compost solids. Filter apple juice again through a cheesecloth so you have a nice clear(ish) liquid. (Wet and wring out your cheesecloth first.)
Measure 4 1/4 cups apple juice and add to a saucepan with the lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a boil, skim the foam and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes. Check set. (You want a thick syrup or jam-y set.) Jar and water bath can.