Hello all and thanks for stopping by! For anyone who has made any jelly/jam before, you know that one of the most crucial components to add is pectin. For anyone who has not made preserves before, pectin is the ingredient that "jells" the fruit and gives them the consistency we are familiar with for our preserves. However, when canning, pectin is often the highest cost out of the entire process. In this instructable, I will be showing you how to lower your canning costs by making your own natural pectin using crab-apples.
Step 1: Supplies
For this project you will need the following supplies...
- 2 Large cooking pots
- Cooking stove (preferably outside in case you make a mess)
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Small glass
- Potato masher
- 5 Gal. bucket
- Measuring spoon
And most importantly, Crab-apples!
Step 2: Pick Your Crabapples
One of the great things about crab-apples is that they contain a high concentration on pectin. By tapping into this natural goldmine of pectin, we are taking a tree/ fruit that is typically only used as an ornamental tree and using it to reduce preserve making costs while using all natural ingredients. In this step, you will need to pick a rather large amount of apples. You don't need to worry about removing the stems from the fruit as they can be added to the mash. Try to avoid leaves if possible. We spent about an hour collecting around 3-4 gallons which ended up making around 16 quarts of pectin.This amount will allow you to make about 350 oz or jelly or jam.
Step 3: Prepare the Mash
In this step you want to thoroughly rinse off the apples you picked in the last step. Be sure to remove any leaves from the mash as they won't add anything to your pectin. You can leave the stems on the crab-apples tough, there is trace amounts of pectin in the stems that we will be extracting. Once all of the dirt, bugs, leaves, and everything else is rinsed off of the fruit transfer it into your cooking pot for the next step.
Step 4: Cook Mash
This step we will begin cooking the pectin out of the fruit. So just put your filled with the apples and topped off with water on the stove and cook to a boil. You will want to leave the mash boiling for some time, around 45 minutes. The longer you cook, the more pectin you will be able to extract. Be careful not to let it burn though as the burnt flavor can carry into your jams/jellies. Once the fruit has been cooked, you can use the potato masher to smash the softened fruit to release the pectin. After smashing, let the pot cook some more.
Step 5: Strain and Drain
Once you feel confident that the mash is thoroughly cooked, use the strainer to remove the liquid from the mash. This liquid is the remaining water with the pectin inside of it. You are now ready to test your homemade pectin. Be careful not to splash any on yourself or burn yourself on the steam. Both feel quite unpleasant :(
Step 6: Test the Pectin
To test the pectin, pour a small amount of isopropyl alcohol into your glass. We used a shot glass as it is a prefect size for testing. Use the measuring spoon to transfer a small amount of the liquid pectin into the glass with the isopropyl. Use the fork to gently mix the two, and slowly remove the fork, pulling directly upward. The pectin should have gelled in the glass and stuck to the fork as a opaque slime like substance. If it does not, you need to return the liquid to the stove and continue to cook, checking again after another 10 minutes or so until the pectin has been cooked out. At this point, you are all done and can either add the pectin to your jams and jellies to be or you can jar it for the next time you make your preserves. Thanks for reading and I hope this guide has helped!