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  • National Invasive Species Awareness February 27, 2015
    It is National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2015.  Somehow the memo that came to my neck of the woods didn’t highlight the “AWARENESS” keyword in the promotional name.  As a result, it seems the invasive species around here thought it was an invitation to move in and celebrate…like Mardi Gras.  HARUMMPH!!!! Early in the week […] We love hearing from you! […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Invasives and Nuance February 26, 2015
    Invasives and Nuance I’ve had a long and complicated relationship with Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum), and we finally broke up for good this year. The opening photo shows C. perfoliatum’s cousin, Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum). It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week, so I thought maybe it’s a good time to be open about my experience of […] We love heari […]
    Jesse Elwert
  • Where Do Spiders Go in Winter February 25, 2015
    Do spiders hibernate in winter? Do spiders come inside your house in winter? Where do spiders go in winter? These are questions I’m frequently asked by our readers and also from audiences at conferences and workshops as I travel to speak about Ecosystem Gardening around the country. So lets take a look at how spiders […] We love hearing from you! Please clic […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers February 24, 2015
    Beautiful patterns, holes in tree bark, looking like a sort of Morse Code, is not the work of Martians leaving us a message, or wood boring insects. These holes are the work of a brightly colored, medium sized woodpecker, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius. The photo, above, is a cluster of holes (called sapwells) that I discovered less […] We […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Dreaming of Spring February 23, 2015
      I think it’s safe to say that those of us who do not live in Florida are sick and tired of shoveling snow this winter. I for one am dreaming of Spring in a big way! So I was looking through some of my photos from years gone by and thought I would share […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let us know what you […]
    Judy Burris
  • Monarchs for President’s Day February 22, 2015
    The long President’s Day weekend, 2015 found me camping at a favorite spot in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains, Leo Carrillo State Beach. This campground at the far north end of Malibu includes its own private beach, a pristine cove on the Pacific Ocean.  To the east of CA’s Route 1 (known also as the […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Bluebirds Staking Claim February 20, 2015
    It’s a brisk day here in Central Florida with record lows hovering around the freezing mark.  The birds are in full flurry, tanking up on the various berries and fruits that are available for winter dining in my native plant garden. I was pleased to see the Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) are back house hunting […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Gardening for the Birds in the Desert February 17, 2015
    What do desert birds need? Same as every living thing on earth needs, food, water and a place to live. So after you put in a bird bath for the drinking water what can you do to attract birds to the garden? Bird feeders are one easy answer, but you often see a number of […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let us […]
    Jacqueline Soule
  • In the Garden, the Eagle has Landed February 13, 2015
    As I looked up to the sky, the vultures were flying overhead in full force.  I suspect the remains of some dropped prey may have been in the 3-acre lot across the street.  Vultures in my neighborhood are a routine affair. I live within a mile (as the crow flies) of a wildlife management area […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beau […]
    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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