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  • Drone & Pop! September 23, 2014
    So I walk out to my native plant plot one morning in early August. What is that droning sound I hear? I listen for a while and then it was obvious! The section of my garden which is full of Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculate) was buzzing with hundreds of bees! I was amazed at the […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful p […]
    Joni James
  • Sunflowers ideal for elementary curriculum September 22, 2014
    See the white bumps at the base of each floret? Once they fully emerged, they were shiny, black sunflower seeds. Everybody wanted a piece of them — the squirrels, the birds, the chipmunks — you get the idea. But I needed some, too. Despite the tough competition, we managed to extract some seeds for ourselves. We […] We love hearing from you! Please click her […]
    Stacey Evers
  • Killer on the Loose September 19, 2014
    Tis the time of year when huge “bees” are flying all over the yard.  They aren’t actually bees, but bumblebee mimics and they prey on the very insects they resemble.  Meet a Robberfly (Mallophora bomboides), a member of the insect order Diptera.  This particular species is commonly called “Florida Bee Killer” due to their preferred […] We love hearing from y […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Lights, Camera, Action: Hollywood’s Fan Palms September 18, 2014
    Sprinklers let loose— Water is softly spraying a neighbor’s yard, and it sounds nice, even though it is only a plain green lawn that’s benefiting.  Well, not just a lawn— Out the window I see both a tall California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) and a more robust Phoenix Palm (Phoenix Cunninghamiana) standing together in the […] We love hearing from you! P […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • When the Gall Moves, it Probably isn’t a Gall September 12, 2014
    I was walking past the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) tree, one of two saplings I have planted on the southwest side of the pond. Bald-cypress are known for getting species-specific insects known as Cypress Twig Gall Midge (Taxodiomyia cupressiananassa). The smaller of my two trees has a few sprinkled throughout. Galls are housing created from […] We love […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Gardening for Wildlife at the Flower Farm September 11, 2014
    On September 28th last year (2012), my husband and I closed on our first home, a 1.5 acre property that backs out to a nature preserve and is surrounded by woods on all four sides. I wrote about our gardening efforts last year in an article I called “Wildlife Gardening in Rivendell,” because the property […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see […]
    Jesse Elwert
  • Jack-in-the-pulpit September 9, 2014
    Anticipation Anticipation makes my world go ’round. I find something, perhaps a plant, just beginning to emerge in the spring. I return to the infant plant often. Watching and waiting. Looking forward to its grand finale. This is the story of anticipation from beginning to disappointing end, of a Jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum. The photograph above, […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Little Lacewing Life Cycle September 8, 2014
    Lacewings are delicate insects that are considered to be beneficial to your garden.  I’ve observed them in my beautiful wildlife garden during the day and at night.  To the casual observer they appear to be clumsy fliers, but that may serve as a survival technique.  From what I’ve read, they have sensory organs at the […] We love hearing from you! Please cli […]
    Judy Burris
  • Cream of the Gardening Crop: Skimmers September 5, 2014
    I’ve a new dragonfly at my place.  I was excited when I saw the overall purple hue of this beauty.  I knew it was one I had never seen before and at first I struggled to identify it. Anyone can make up a  checklist of Dragonflies and Damselflies (order: Odonata) based on their location.  I […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beauti […]
    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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