Making jam at home requires pectin to jell the jam. Pectin works in combination with an acid, sugar and heat to jell the jam or jelly. I used to purchase Certo, a commercial pectin powder for home jamming. Certo largest ingredient is sugar, then fumaric acid. Its least ingredient is pectin.
Fumaric acid is a synthesized chemical. One process is to synthesize it from corn — GM corn. I prefer to avoid this in my family’s diet. Is there an organic alternative to Certo and other commercial pectins? Of course.
Before the industrialization for our food, brilliant housewives made jams and jellies using the naturally occurring pectin found in fruit. Apples are rich in pectins, but so are many fruits including blueberries.
One way to take advantage of the pectins of apples when making jam is to take 4 cooking apples*(different than eating apples — usually more tart) Peel, core and chop finely. Add the apples to 8 cups of fruit in the pan, when making jam.
Making Pectin Stock from Cooking Apples
Or you can easily make pectin stock and can it for future jam making when the crab apples are available in early summer. Then you’ll have pectin stock for jam making for the rest of the summer. Dolgo Crab apples are larger crab apples that are ready in July and good for pectin and apple jelly.
The flesh, skin and seeds of cooking apples and crab apples contain large amounts of pectin, which can be extracted and used to set jams and jellies made with low-pectin fruits. Make large quantities of the stock, when apples are at their peak.
1/2 cup of pectin will set 4 cups of fruit or juice — same as 1 pkg of Certo. Pectin will keep for 2 years when canned.
Recipe: Homemade Pectin
12 lbs of cooking apples* or crab apples or a mixture
Scrub apples, discard leaves, and stems. Coarsely chop, including skin and seeds. Put apples in a large preserving pan with 3 litres of water. The apples should be barely covered by the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until apples are softened.
Strain the contents of the pan through a cheese cloth or jelly bag. Set over a large bowl and let it drain for 24 hours. Do not squeeze the bag.
Transfer the strained liquid back to a preserving pan and boil over high heat until it is reduced by half or a large clot is formed when the pectin level is tested.*
Ladle the stock into 250ml jars. Seal jars in a boiling water bath for 5 min. Makes 2 1/2 litres. — enough for 10 batches of jam.
Using homemade pectin stock:
Basic Jam Recipe
10 cups of fruit or juice
8 cups of sugar
1 cup of pectin stock
1/4 cup. lemon juice (or substitute 1/4 under ripe fruit)
Bring mixture to a boil, and boil 15 min, or until mixture reaches the jelling point*.
*Commonly available cooking apples include Macintosh, Gravenstein, Granny Smith, Northern Spy, Winesap, Jonathon, Gala. There are many more. Under ripe eating apples also work well.
*Testing the jelling point of jam or jelly:
Jams and jellies normally jell at 220F. Generally the thickness of the mixture indicates jelling point. To test, chill a ceramic or glass bowl. Spoon 1 tsp of mixture onto chilled bowl. Chill for a few minutes. The jellying point has been reached if the mixture is firm enough to remain divided when a finger is pushed through the centre. If mixture is not set, continue cooking a little longer.
Have you made jams or jellies without commercial pectin? How did you do it? Share your success with our readers.
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Some resources to help you with your jam making: