I used to buy pectin in small boxes — Certo brand. One box would gel 8 cups of fruit. There was a page of tested jam recipes inside the box and you looked up the particular fruit that you wanted to make jam from on a chart and it told you how much sugar, lemon juice, and fruit to use per one box of pectin. It was convenient if you had the particular fruit that they listed. But if the fruit you wanted to make jam from, wasn’t on the list, you had to look it up on the website or call the 800 number on the box.
The boxes were expensive. You had to have the right kind of pectin for the kind of jam that you wanted to make — freezer jam and low sugar jam used a pectin with an additive that would gel without sugar. About 5 years into homesteading I discovered bulk pectin at my health food store. Much cheaper than individually boxed portions of pectin. Later I learned to make my own from tart apples or crab apples. Here are those directions if you want them.
So look for the powdered bulk pectin at your bulk food store or health food store. It was right beside the powdered gelatin at my store.
How to use powdered pectin that you buy in bulk
To use it you mix the pectin powder with 1/4 cup of the sugar that your recipe calls for and let it dissolve in the fruit juice.
1 tbsp of pectin powder gels 4 cups of fruit. Use 2 tbsp. per 8 cups of fruit. The standard jam recipe is 8 cups of fruit, 6 to 8 cups of sugar, 1/4 cup lemon juice. The lemon juice helps lower pectin fruit to gel.
Test recipe — making peach jam using powdered pectin from the bulk store
Here’s how this looks when making Peach Jam:
Recipe: Peach Jam (makes 5 pint jars)
Blanch and skin 6 lbs. of peaches or enough to make 8 cups of chopped peaches. Slice and chop the peaches finely, and remove pits, and skins. Place in heavy bottom sauce pan, making sure the pan is large enough that it won’t over flow when the jam begins to boil.
8 cups of peaches, finely chopped
6 cups of sugar
2 tbsp. of powdered pectin mixed with 1/4 cup of sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in sauce pan and allow to sit for 15 minutes until sugar draws juice out of some of the peaches. Stir until all the sugar is removed. Place over medium heat. Add 1/4 tsp. butter to inhibit foaming while the jam boils. Stir well and bring to a boil. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes until fruit sauce begins to thicken, or until the syrup forms a gel drop when dropped from a spoon.
You can do a gel test. Place a shallow dish in the fridge. Once the dish is cool, dribble a spoonful of jam on the dish. Return to fridge. Chill for a few minutes and then draw your finger through the gel blob. If the gel remains separated and doesn’t flow back together, the jam is ready. If it flows back together, boil for an additional 5 minutes and test again. Continue this until the jam gels. If your pectin has been sitting in the cupboard for a year, increase the amount of pectin to 3 tbsp. Pectin loses its gelling capacity over time.
Remove from heat. Stir well. Skim off any foam that remains on the top.
Ladle into prepared jars. Jars are prepared by washing well. Don’t use jars with cracks or rough spots along the edge. Scald your snap lids and wash the rings. Complete closures on the jars. Place in boiling water bath and process jars for 10 minutes for jams.
Remove jars from canner and allow to cool completely. Check seals. Once jars are sealed you can remove the ring, leaving the lid sealed. Label the jars and put into storage.
I use my pressure canner for water bath canning. I simply add water to 2 inches over the top of the jars, and put the lid of the canner ajar, so that pressure cannot build up. Then I process the jars as I would for water bath canning. This is a Presto pressure canner and I’ve been using it for 30 years without incident. Presto continues to produce parts. I’ve replaced the sealing ring and the pressure valve on mine about 4 times — once every 4 or 5 years and I give it heavy use. The price is really good on the Presto pressure canners right now, and shipping is free. Actually the Amazon price is less than what I paid for my pressure canner 30 years ago!
Using other fruits with bulk powdered pectin
Some fruits are high in pectin and some fruits are low in pectin. Generally speaking stone fruits, like peaches, plums, and apricots, or berries are low in pectin, while apples, pears, and citrus are high in pectin. Low pectin fruits need 1 tbsp. of powdered pectin per 4 cups of fruit to get a soft gel in the jam. High pectin fruits give some of their own pectin to the recipe, and so require less powdered pectin to give a good gel. Under ripe fruit also has more pectin than ripe fruit.
For high pectin fruit like apples and oranges, you can reduce the amount of powdered pectin that you want in your jam recipe — 1 tbsp. per 8 cups of fruit is adequate for crab apple jelly or marmalade, for instance. Use more pectin with low acid fruits — 2 tbsp for 8 cups of peaches or grape juice. Add more pectin for a stiffer gel.
Back to you:
What fruits are you jamming this week?