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  • Happy Holidays 2014 December 19, 2014
    I’ve done Christmas theme posts in the past including “In the Wildlife Garden, Naughty or Nice?” (2011), “Revising the 12 Days of Christmas” (2012-NPWG),  “The Color of Christmas in the Garden“ (2013), “A Berry Merry Christmas“ (2010) to name some. In keeping with what has become a tradition of sorts, this year will be no […] We love hearing from you! Please […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Pest Free? December 18, 2014
    Pest free is a very desirable trait in plants according to the nursery trade. I watched a large cockroach race across my counter today and I certainly wanted to be pest free at that moment! Pest is just a derogatory term for bugs, of course, and I don’t feel that all bugs are pests. Do […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • Holiday Giving for Wildlife Gardeners December 17, 2014
    As we celebrate the holiday season with family and friends, put up our Christmas trees, bake delicious holiday goodies, and buy presents for our loved ones, I also like to give a little back to wildlife by working to create more wildlife habitats in our gardens and communities. There are many ways you can give a […] We love hearing from you! Please click her […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Is “Drink Your Tea” in Your Garden? December 16, 2014
    Male Towhee Look low and listen for the rustling of leaves! You will often wonder what animal might be coming your way, especially in the fall when fallen leaves blanket the ground. Be patient and you might see the beautifully marked Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) using its two-footed backward hop to turn over leaves to […] We love hearing from you […]
    Joni James
  • Snuffleupagus: In the Garden Stuck on You December 12, 2014
    The great reptile hunter was at it again.  I saw my dog Chili lying in the grass, alert and stretching out her paw like she was batting at something.  And, of course, she was.  Meet Timmy the turtle (named after a pull toy I owned as a toddler…ahhhh memories!). Timmy is actually a three striped […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the b […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Itzy and Bitzy…New Spiders for Me December 5, 2014
    The Groundsel Bushes (Baccharis spp.) a.k.a. Saltbush have been a-buzz.  By far the most visited of all shrubs in my Florida native plant garden this week.  Various wasps and ants and beetles have been mining the leaves for tasty morsels of the Groundselbush Beetle (Trirhabda bacharidis) larvae and/or aphids or scales. I was surprised that […] We love hearin […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • From the New York Botanical Garden December 4, 2014
    Recently I attended a symposium at the New York Botanical Garden called, The Changing Nature of Nature in Cities. I was especially curious to hear Emma Marris, author of The Rambunctious Garden speak, and I wasn’t disappointed. I promised last month to write about the symposium’s content. Honestly, I’m still digesting the message from the […] We love hearing […]
    Jesse Elwert
  • Virginia Pine December 2, 2014
    The holidays. They’re here. They’ve got me thinking of pine trees, and pinecones. And I’m wishing for snow. I’ve had a tiny bit of snow already, but I’m ready for more. This is Virginia pine, Pinus virginiana. I live in a cabin, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in central Virginia. There are plenty of Virginia pine up […] We love hearing from you! Please click h […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Thanksgiving December 1, 2014
    I hope everyone had a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend with their families. I found these photos in my archives and thought they would be perfect for the season.  I love to do “set-up” shots to highlight seasonal themes . . . colorful gourds being some of my favorite subjects.  My brother built an arbor this year […] We love hearing from you! Please click here […]
    Judy Burris

#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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