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  • Create a Portable Composter November 24, 2014
      Now that fall is winding down, you might want to begin thinking towards next year by taking on this project now. Do you do home composting? Have you often wished you had a portable composter? This is a inexpensive project ($20) that can be completed in less than an hour. First you need to […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beaut […]
    Joni James
  • The Monarchs of Venice, California November 22, 2014
    The morning sun rose over the canals of Venice, California, its soft yellow color reflected in the water, as I stood watching the Monarchs, already up and about.  The pocket park they were visiting was still mostly in shade, so I didn’t expect to see the orange-winged beauties until hours later, when the sun would […] We love hearing from you! Please click h […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Balance in the Garden: Ichneumon Parasitic Wasp November 21, 2014
    Sometime ago I talked about how some wasps keep a garden in balance by using other arthropods as their larval hosts, laying eggs to hatch and feed off the caterpillars of moths or butterflies or beetle larvae.  It’s Nature’s way of ensuring you don’t get too many of one species.  The food chain in action. […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to se […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Thankful for Nature November 20, 2014
    As I prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, my list of things to do grows. My mental list of what I am thankful for is in progress as well, and always at the top of that list are the gifts that the natural world has given us. From tiny pollinators to towering oaks, our world would […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • Saying Goodbye to All the Plants in My Front Garden November 19, 2014
    Well, it’s digging day. A day I’ve known was coming since we bought our house 14 years ago. Seems that over 100 years ago when my house was built it was considered a good idea to use clay pipes to carry away the sewage from the houses in this neighborhood. Think about it. You know […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photo […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Teaching native habitats with trout November 17, 2014
    It might seem fishy to set up a 55-gallon fish tank and say you’re going to use to it to teach outdoor education, but so far raising brook trout has been one of the most exciting and engaging projects we’ve taken on at the elementary school where I work. In the local school system, animal […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautif […]
    Stacey Evers
  • Aphids are Good? Wait….WHAT??? November 14, 2014
    Down at my pond recently, I waited patiently for a flower fly to land for a photo op.  I use a point and shoot camera and have yet to find that the sports setting is effective at getting close-up photos of insects so I don’t use it.  I took a random shot or two while […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let us k […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Winter Citizen Science Projects November 12, 2014
    Winter is a fabulous time to participate in a wide variety of citizen science projects to help biologists and scientists gather data for conservation planning and further our knowledge of ecosystem health and population abundance of different types of wildlife. I’m working on building a comprehensive list so I’m going to ask for your help […] We love hearing […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • A Heron By Any Other Name Would Be Easier To Identify November 7, 2014
    This is a fun time of year in Florida.  The birds are returning from their summer digs so I get a wide array of visitors.  I glanced out at the pond the other day and eyed a thin white head poking up through the cover of native grasses.  There standing on the tussock in the […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and l […]
    Loret T. Setters

#GardenChat

Make Your Own Pectin

“If you have an apple and I have an apple

and we exchange these apples

then you and I will still each have one apple.

But if you have an idea and I have an idea

and we exchange these ideas,

then each of us will have two ideas.”

~George Bernard Shaw

It’s (almost) autumn in New York and the apple harvest is so inviting! Who can resist orchard rows aligned with gnarled old trees full of bright, juicy jewels in greens, golds and reds?! The mere sight of them makes my heart sing and my mouth water. It’s time for appple pie, applesauce, apple juice and …pectin. Yes, pectin! It’s a great way to use the apple peels and cores you’d otherwise compost and can save you a bit of money.

Fruits and vegetables naturally contain various amounts of pectin (defined as “collodial carbohydrates soluble in water”) which diminishes as they age. Some fruits, like apples, blackberries, quince, and Eastern concord grapes are naturally high in pectin. Others like peaches, pears, and strawberries are naturally low in pectin. If you like to make jams and jellies or preserve fruit in the freezer you will use pectin to help prevent the fruit from turning brown and to help your jelly ‘set.’ Commercial pectin is widely available in stores, but it’s also very easy to make fresh from local fruit in season…especially apples which don’t lend a strong flavor to whatever you are preserving. Why not give it a try?

Apple Pectin

  1. Wash all of the apples well.
  2. Place the peels, cores, any windfall fruit or pomace you are using into a pot and cover with water. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer the fruit until it’s soft, about 30 minutes. (Whole apples should be cut into chunks.)
  3. Strain through cheesecloth until it stops dripping. This can take a while, if you don’t mind cloudy jelly (or you’re using the pectin for freezing fruit) you can hasten the process by gently squeezing the cloth to extract the liquid.
  4. Return the cooked fruit to the pot, cover with more water and repeat the process again, cooking for only half the time, about 15 minutes.
  5. Now the liquid must be reduced to a concentrate. Place all of the liquid back into a pot and bring to a simmer. As it reduces, it will become smooth and have a slick texture. When the liquid reduces by half it can be used in a 1:1 ratio with low pectin fruit to make jelly. (One cup of pectin for every cup of juice.) It can also be mixed with low-pectin fruit before freezing to prevent darkening. Allowing the liquid to reduce down further to 1/4 of the original volume makes a thick pectin syrup similar to the liquid pectin available in stores. It will only require 1/4 c. of the pectin syrup for every 4 cups of juice when making jelly. (Follow the directions for canning jams and jellies with commercial liquid pectin.)
  6. Extra pectin can be frozen for later use.

It may take a bit of experimenting before you are familiar with the process, but don’t let that keep you from trying it. The pectin is also great for mixing into tea with a bit of honey to soothe sore throats. Nature really has it all..

Happy harvest!

4 comments to Make Your Own Pectin

  • This is a great idea Lisa. Neither of my young apple trees are producing any fruit yet but I’m saving this to try in the future.

  • I can use crabapples can’t I? I had heard that I could. And I have the little tiny ones in abundance.

  • Lisa Gustavson

    Hi Melanie! It’s easy and saves a bit of money, but the best part is making it and using it fresh! Enjoy!

  • Lisa Gustavson

    Yes, Trina, you can use any fruit that is naturally high in pectin. Bear in mind the flavors, though, as they may be imparted to whatever you are preserving. We have crabapples, but I leave them for the deer to munch all winter so I’ve just used the cores and peels from our windfall apples and a few leftovers from pies etc. :-)

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