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  • Hackberry January 27, 2015
    Here on Snow Mountain, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, I see quite a few hackberry trees, Celtis occidentalis. Most are trees with circumferences of 5 inches or smaller, trees that have not been around long. Their small size may be, in part, because the forest up here is a young forest. Back in the 1950s […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Beer and Butterflies, Hops and Commas January 26, 2015
    This is the time of year I think most of us gardening folk are itching to get back out there tending to our plants and critters.  I’ve been taking inventory of my seeds, shopping around for new bee boxes and bird houses and mentally designing new flower beds.  Since my brother and I spend so […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beau […]
    Judy Burris
  • Florida Winter Birds January 23, 2015
    I’ve had two recent avian visitors that for me are a real treat.  You see migrating birds aren’t exclusively a phenomenon of northern climes.  Florida also has migratory visitors, some merely passing through and some that stay a few months but don’t breed here. If you prepare a Florida winter wildlife garden to their liking, […] We love hearing from you! Ple […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • The Undisclosed Location January 22, 2015
    I love January in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains. Recent rain has brought new life to the drought-stricken soil, and new spring green seedlings are sprouting up everywhere. Trails are still wet one week after our 1-day rainstorm.  After waiting all year for rain, native plants waste no time in asserting themselves. This month, the air […] We lo […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Dead Wood is Not Dead Weight January 21, 2015
    Dead wood from trees provides abundant habitat for wildlife in your garden. We talk often of the value of native trees in your wildlife garden. Trees provide all manner of ecosystem services, and provide food and shelter for many different kinds of wildlife. In fact, native trees support vastly larger numbers of different species of […] We love hearing from […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Arbor Day? Yes! And It’s All About Florida Trees! January 16, 2015
    Florida weather puts us ahead of the April National Arbor Day planting curve.  The third Friday of January is officially designated as Florida Arbor Day (in Louisiana too!).   Tis our dry season, so I suppose we plant now to get the roots reaching deep for water before rainy season hits and makes it easy.  This […] We love hearing from you! Please click here […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Can I Make a Difference? January 15, 2015
    How many of you ponder this question? You’re living in a house with a small yard in an urban area. After you plant your tomato and pepper plants, there just isn’t much room left. You hung up a bird feeder – could you do more, you wonder? You hear about the problems with the bees […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • Resources for Planning Your Wildlife Garden January 14, 2015
    It’s the Dreaming Season–winter is upon us, and for most of us snow and cold are keeping us inside where it’s warm and cozy, and not outside working in our wildlife gardens. This is the perfect time to plan, and dream about, the steps we will take in our gardens in the coming spring to […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Start your rain barrels now January 12, 2015
    This is Old Man Winter’s time, which at a school can translate into a lot of indoor recess time and little to no garden time. Here’s a winter project to keep students’ minds on the gardens and focus their energy when they can’t get outside: Painting rain barrels. We have two rain barrels at Belvedere. Although we don’t use […] We love hearing from you! Pleas […]
    Stacey Evers

#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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