Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Although life can be quite busy, leaving many of us little to no time  in the kitchen, a bit of pre-emptive planning and working in small batches make it possible for just about anyone to do canning of some sort.

Making jams or jellies is relatively easy. With all kinds of fresh fruits becoming available, it is a tasty way to begin your canning career.

There are two main factors involved in the making of jams and jellies, the concentration of sugar versus the concentration of pectin. Too much sugar or pectin in your recipe will produce an unappealing solid lump, which can still be tasty spread on warm toast or bagels, baked into cakes or pies, or used as glazes on meat or poultry.

Conversely, too little of either of these ingredients can result in a runny jar of syrup,  which still may be used to season vinaigrettes, for making smoothies, drizzling over ice cream, even as a base for fruit salads. So truly, do not be afraid to make a mistake, the final product can almost always be used in in some form of delicious advantage!

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I often like to use honey in my jams and jellies, often adding little or no sugar, so I add pectin, but in general the chemistry of jelly making without pectin requires sugar.

There are many commercial pectins available, making jamming quick and easy. I have used them for years, as I learned from my mother, but  because homemade pectin is quite easy to make, and can actually add a dimension of flavor to your creations,  I opt for store bought pectin only when I run out of homemade.

Just remember, no matter what happens make the best of your batch and learn for the next round – like anything worthwhile it takes patience and practice to learn how to preserve your own jams and jellies, but I guarantee the results will be well worth your efforts.



Homemade pectin can be made in the early summer if you have direct access to apple trees as I do, or in autumn when apples are in season.

You will need small, green, immature apples: wild crab apples are great for pectin, but any immature apple will do. You may use damaged apples - just cut away all the imperfections first.

If you do not have access to apple trees, purchase 6- 8 tart, green Granny Smith apples. You will also need 2 lemons chopped up, peel and seeds included. Rinds and seeds are where all the pectin is in lemons, the juice is not really necessary, but can be helpful if you are working with low acid fruits or vegetable. You can store lemon and lime skins and seeds in the freezer after they have been juiced for other dishes until you are ready to make pectin. I will often save skins from other citrus fruits for the same purpose - it is quite fun and interesting to mingle the flavor of the citrus with the other ingredients.
Wash the apples, trim the bad parts off and slice them very thinly, seeds, skins and all. Place them in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom (non-reactive) pan with the chopped up citrus bits. You need a total of 2 pounds per batch. Add 4 cups water.

Over high heat, bring the contents to a boil stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender (should have the consistency of apple sauce). Continue to stir occasionally so the fruit does not stick to the pan.

Remove from the heat and cool. Line a bowl large enough to hold liquid with dampened cheesecloth. Pour the pulp and juice into the cheesecloth. Gather the corners and tie in a knot. Carefully lift over bowl. Suspend from a cabinet knob or handle and allow to drip into a bowl overnight. Do not stir the liquid and do not squeeze the bag.

The next day, measure the juice and pour into a large pot. Discard cheesecloth and its contents. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat stirring contantly, move to low heat, cook until reduced by half.

The pectin should be canned in pint jars and processed in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes with 1/2 inch headspace. You can also freeze for future use.

Using Homemade Pectin

When using homemade pectin, you can’t follow the recipes that are found on the backs of commercially available jelling agents. With homemade pectin you will use equal amounts of pectin to low pectin fruits: 4 cups strawberries to 4 cups homemade pectin. Fruits that are low in pectin include: blueberries, cherries, peaches, raspberries, rhubarb and strawberries, follow the one to one formula.

High pectin fruits like apples, cranberries, quinces, currants, Concord grapes, and plums, cut the homemade pectin in half . Overall you will have to experiment a little, but that is half the fun.

Happy Jamming!


  1. I think it's pretty awesome you made your own pectin and it seems easy enough to do at home. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you! I've been throwing apples in my jam for their pectin but want to move onto jelly and have access to apples.

  3. Great step by step instructions, thank you.

  4. I love it! It's so pure and simple. Great directions.

  5. Love your site I make pectin when I do citrus. Thank you for your post I linked you from my post happy jar'z xoxo

  6. Can you double the recipe?