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  • Bird Population Soaring May 22, 2015
    Spring 2015 is once again proving to be a banner year for bird broods in my beautiful wildlife garden.  Bluebird brood #2 has successfully hatched and 4 healthy mockingbird babies located in a holly shrub not 15 feet away joined them this past week.  It is dizzying watching the two sets of parents feed the […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to s […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Monarda Madness May 21, 2015
    The first Monarda blooms of 2015 opened up this week, kicking off a series of great blooms from now until late summer.  Every year I learn to appreciate this genus of native flowers so much more until I feel that I might just be on the edge of monarda madness because last year I actually […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautifu […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • Twinleaf May 19, 2015
      A very early wildflower, Twinleaf, Jeffersonia diphylla, is native to eastern North America. It is a plant that I must remind myself to hunt for, well before I’m used to finding wildflowers blooming. Here in the mountains of central Virginia, that crucial time is late March into early April. Each flower only lasts for a very […] We love hearing from you! P […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Trilliums April 21, 2015
    There is not much more thrilling than hiking through the woods and finding a patch of native wildflowers. Some are minuscule, not of bright color, others can knock your socks off. Trilliums fill the bill for knocking my socks off! In the picture above, you see White Trillium, Trillium grandiflorum, about to bloom in one of my gardens. I’ve […] We love hearin […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Help for Hummers April 16, 2015
    Putting up a hummingbird feeder is a fun way to bring hummingbirds close to a viewing space like a window. Like other types of bird feeders, it is often the first step in developing a love of our feathered friends and a desire to nurture them. So once you’ve taken the first step, I’d encourage […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the be […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • Native Plant Appreciation Week, Osceola County Florida April 10, 2015
    Today’s article is going to be about promoting the use of native plants, mostly because I forgot that today was Friday and didn’t do any critter research. I’ve been busy promoting The Central Florida Native Plant Sale (3rd annual) which is today, April 10, 2015 from 4-7 p.m. and tomorrow from 8 a.m. – 1 […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Ladies of the Day April 3, 2015
    Notwithstanding their common name, I’ll start by clarifying that they aren’t all ladies.  After all, in North America the order odonata need male and female to reproduce. I’m not clear how these insects acquired their common name.  Damselflies are an interesting group of insects. Predatory in both larval and adult stages, these are insects you […] We love he […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Skink Wars and More on These Sleek Lizards March 28, 2015
    I was on the patio late one afternoon and the trashcan was rocking.  I glanced over since you never know what creature of nature will be visiting my place.  I figured that maybe a black racer or water snake had slithered underneath the wheels setting the rocking in motion. Then I heard thrashing and a […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see al […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Spring Garden Care March 26, 2015
      Spring Garden Care People who care about attracting wildlife to their gardens usually learn over time about best practices for fall cleanup and especially the fact that it’s really beneficial for our birds if we refrain from relentlessly cutting perennials to the ground before winter. But what then happens in the spring for garden care?   Here in […] We lo […]
    Jesse Elwert

#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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