Posts Tagged ‘make your own pectin’

“I beg your pardon?”

“I said…I’m going to Christina’s to pick up a bag of apple cores and peels…”

It’s lucky that my husband knows me well enough to take these sorts of comments in his stride.  Christina was making apple pie and I’d asked her to keep the leftover bits and pieces for me.  I know it sounds ridiculously frugal, but apple cores and peel make fantastic pectin and I religiously save  and freeze the cores from Small Man’s morning and afternoon teas.  I’d been at it for a couple of weeks and was accumulating a tidy collection, when Chris mentioned her pie.  I arrived with a plate of vanilla kifli and offered to trade for her bag of “compost bits”.  No wonder people think I’m strange.

In total, I had a dozen frozen Fuji cores, a full bag of green apple peel and cores from Christina, and the peel and cores from another six Fujis that needed to be eaten (I cooked the pulp into pie filling and stashed it in the freezer).  It made the most gorgeous pectin (instructions here), as well as some delicious apple jelly.


Apple jelly is pretty easy to make – it’s what you end up with if you add sugar to your homemade pectin.  After I’d let the liquid drain through the calico (without pressing – that’s very important, or you’ll get cloudy jelly), I measured out a litre of the drained apple stock.  This was poured into a large saucepan and brought to a boil, then the juice of a lemon and four cups of sugar were added (the ratio is one cup of sugar to each cup of apple stock – sometimes you can get away with a little less, but if there isn’t enough sugar, the jelly might not set).

The pot was brought to a rolling boil until it reached 220F (104.5C) on a candy thermometer.  It really doesn’t set until it gets to that temperature, but if you don’t have a thermometer, you can always check if it’s ready by putting a small blob of jelly onto a cold plate to see if it wrinkles.  There is always some froth on the top of the liquid as it boils – that’s a good sign that the pectin is setting – just skim it off carefully and discard.

Once it was ready, we poured the hot jelly into sterilised jars and sealed.  We boiled the finished jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, just to make doubly sure they won’t go mouldy.

We ended up with three large jars of pectin and four jars of apple jelly.  I took two jars of jelly to Christina’s house – one for her and one for her dad (after all, it was his green apples).  Her brother opened the door and looked at me quizzically as I handed him the jars and said…

“This is for Christina – it’s Compost Jelly”.


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Edit: I’ve just had an email from a lady who had trouble getting the apple jelly to set.  This was the original YouTube video we learnt to make the apple jelly from – I thought it might be useful to link it here:

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We bought a big box of new season Royal Galas at the markets a couple of weeks ago.  Whilst they looked magnificent, they weren’t crunchy enough for our liking (Galas rarely ever are). The boys were really good and no-one complained, but when we saw new season Fujis at the markets last Friday, we couldn’t resist.  These looked lousy – all pockmarked and dimpled – but they’re crunchy and sweet, and so fresh that they should last for weeks outside the fridge.

Rather than waste the Galas, I turned them into apple pectin and pie filling.  The peels and cores all went into a large pot to boil into pectin (we produced twelve large jars – which should be enough to set at least 36 kilos of fruit).  I’ve posted the instructions for making pectin in the Jam section.  The remaining pulp was sliced and cooked down with a little water until soft, then drained.  I added lemon juice and sugar to taste, cooked it a little longer, then froze most of the filling in one litre containers, ready for a future mid-week treat.

Today I defrosted a box of filling, stirred a teaspoon of cinnamon through it, and made an apple pie for afternoon tea, using June’s wonderful shortcrust pastry. The boys have already eaten half of it!

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All of our jam is made with homemade pectin stock.  We make it in large batches, whenever apples are cheap at the markets, and can it – that is, we seal it in sterilised glass jars which are then heated in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  This preserves the pectin so that it can, in theory, be stored for up to 12 months on the shelf, although we’ve never had it for more than about eight months (by which time either stonefruits or berries are in season, and the whole lot gets used up in jam-making).

In our opinion, the homemade version tastes better and, unlike commercial pectin, it can be boiled for a long time, which makes the jam process a lot easier.  To give you some idea of cost, we purchased a 16kg box of Royal Gala apples last Friday for $10, which produced 17 x 300ml jars of strong pectin – enough to set up to 50kg of fruit.  The pulp of the apples also provided us with 16 jars of applesauce.


  • Lots of apples (not over-ripe, as they don’t seem to work)
  • Water

1. Peel and core the apples (don’t waste the pulp – turn it into apple sauce or apple butter, or use it for apple pies).  Place all the peel and cores into a large pot and pour in enough water to just float them.


Cut the apples into quarters and place them in a large pot.  Pour in enough water to just float them.  Doing it this way will produce a slightly nicer tasting pectin, and you can pass the leftover pulp through a food mill to make apple sauce or apple butter.


2. Cover and bring the pot to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and allow to boil gently (covered) for a couple of hours, or until the solids turn soft and mushy.


3. Line a colander with a clean piece of calico and pour boiling water through it to sterilise the fabric.  Place the colander over a large stock pot and carefully tip the apple mass and liquid through it.  Do not press the pulp, or you’ll get cloudy pectin.  Leave the whole thing to drip for several hours or overnight (I usually fold the ends of the cloth over the top of the apples, then cover gently with the stockpot lid, in a perhaps futile attempt to keep the insects out).


4. When the liquid has completely drained through, remove the colander and reheat the pectin until boiling.  You now need to reduce the pectin until it reaches the strength you require – as we don’t want it to set rocky hard (Pete likes his jams softly set), we normally just boil it a bit to make sure it’s all hot before we start canning.

Here is the test – pour a little pectin into a small bowl and put it in the fridge to cool (test won’t work if the pectin is hot).  Pour some methylated spirits into another bowl, then tip the cold pectin into it.  If you’ve made decent pectin, it will coagulate in the meths, and you should be able to lift it out as a jellied blob with a fork.  Please – make sure no-one accidentally eats or drinks the contents of the bowl – it’s poisonous!


5. In order to store the pectin, you can either freeze it, or pour it into sterile glass jars, seal, and then process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.


Tip : When you go to use your homemade pectin, do what Pete does, and taste a tiny bit of each jar as you open it.  The pectin should taste like mild, unsweetened apple juice.  It may have darkened slightly with storage, but if it tastes good, then it’s should be fine.

More on pectin making here: Compost Jelly.

For tips on making jam, please have a look at our Jam Making Primer.

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© copyright 2009 by Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. All rights reserved.

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