Natural Apple Pectin Stock




Introduction: Natural Apple Pectin Stock

This Instructable will show you how to make your own pectin for home canning. It is intended for canners with intermediate experience — or an adventurous beginner!

This recipe is taken from the world-famous preserve maker Christine Ferber's book, "Mes Confitures." Ms. Ferber is an Alsatian pastry and preserve maker and is widely known as "the Jam Fairy." She is dedicated to using fresh produce and making preserves in the old-world style with her own inspired flavor combinations. She does not use commercial pectin, she makes her own from green apples.

Ms. Ferber's book is a fine catalogue of her imaginative recipes but does not detail the method of creating them. This Instructable will take you step-by-step through the process of making your own Green Apple Jelly in the master's style.

Please read all the way through before starting as there are alternate methods for saving and storing the finished product.

Step 1: Ingredients

This simple recipe calls for only four ingredients.

3 1/3 lbs (1.5 kg) of green apples*

4 2/3 cups (1 kg) granulated sugar

6 1/3 (1.5 kg/150 cl) cups water

Juice of one lemon

*Unripe apples or crabapples are ideal. In France, Ms. Ferber picks her own from her orchard, but here in the U.S. fresh granny smith apples will suffice, the fresher (greener) the better. No need to worry about misshapen or banged up apples.

Step 2: Equipment

This recipe assumes you are at least an intermediate-level canner, and that you already have basic canning equipment. Even if you don't there are several things that are necessary.

  • An extra large canning or stock pot, large enough to allow jars at least one inch of water above the tops of submerged jars
  • A large pot (like a dutch oven) or preserving pan
  • A fine mesh sieve, chinois or strainer
  • A large piece of muslin or a couple of layers of fine mesh cheesecloth
  • 6-7 Half-pint (8 oz.) canning jars with rings and lids* or small zip-top plastic baggies

Other equipment are fairly standard kitchen items including bowls, knives, measuring cups, spoons, a ladle and the like. A canning funnel, rack for the bottom of the canning pot and a jar lifter are handy if you choose to can the finished pectin in a hot water bath.

*This Instructable shows you how to make, then can the finished product for shelf-stable pectin. Alternately, you may store portions in your freezer in zip-top plastic bags.

Step 3: Prepare the Apples

Wash apples in cool water and remove stems if present.

Cut each apple into quarters, do not core or remove seeds.

Place apple quarters into large pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue to cook for 10 minutes until the apples begin to soften and disintegrate. It may take longer, up to 30 minutes or so. Don't be alarmed.

Step 4: Extract the Pectin

Spoon cooked pulp into a fine mesh sieve, chinois or strainer over a large bowl. Press gently with the back of a spoon or spatula to help release juice, but do not force pulp through. The less pulp that makes it to the final juicing, the clearer your pectin will be. This is desirable in the case that your jelly or preserve that you use the pectin in later will be as clear as possible.

Once you have collected the juice from the cooked pulp, it will need to be strained again through a clean piece of muslin or multiple layers of cheesecloth. This process requires much patience. It helps if you can suspend the whole thing over a pan or bowl for at least several hours or overnight which is what I did. I believe this yields the maximum amount of pectin without added water.

I gathered up the edges of my muslin, secured the package to a sturdy wooden spoon and suspended over my large, deep stock pot overnight. I wanted my pectin to be as clear as possible, so I used muslin, I suspect cheesecloth would strain faster. Alternately you could lay the muslin or cheesecloth over the fine mesh strainer and cover and let sit overnight.

Resist the urge to try and hurry the process along by squeezing the package, because again, the more solid matter in the strained juice the cloudier your finished pectin will be. If this is not important to you, squeeze away I guess.

Your strained juice is now ready to go. It will be a little milky-looking, and that's OK. That's the pectin. It will turn clear during cooking.

You will need to end up with at least 4 1/4 cups (1 kg/1l) of strained juice. If you are just a little short, add water to make the difference but it is best to avoid it if possible.

Step 5: If You Are Canning Your Pectin...

... you will need to do this step. If you are going to freeze the pectin, skip to Step 6: 'Cooking the pectin.'

Once your juice is strained and you're ready to cook it, you should prepare your hot water bath canning process first.

Fill your extra large stock pot or canning pot with water and put to boil on high heat. If you have a fitted rack go ahead and put that in, if not, you can line the bottom of the pot with canning jar rings or a folded kitchen towel. A lid can speed the boiling time along.

Wash your jars and lids with hot soapy water. You can go ahead and put the jars in the water bath pot while you work on cooking the pectin. The goal is to sterilize your jars, they need to boil for at least 10 minutes but if you just leave them in the pot boiling while you make the pectin they'll be ready when you're done.

There is some controversy about heating the lids, historically the lids would be placed in a pan of simmering water until ready to use, but there has been a change in the guidelines from Jarden, the manufacturer of Ball lids as of 2014 and I go by those new guidelines which call for the lids not to be heated in advance at all, simply washed. If you do prefer to put the lids in a pot of simmering water beforehand, take care not to overheat past simmering (180 degrees fahrenheit) as it may weaken the seal compound and cause seal failure later on.

Step 6: Cooking the Pectin

To cook the pectin put the strained juice into your large pot or dutch oven, add the juice of one lemon (strain for seeds and pulp) and the 6 1/3 cups (1.5 kg/150 cl) of sugar.

Cook on high heat until it comes to a strong rolling boil, skim foam if needed. Continue to cook on high heat for 5-10 minutes (depends on how much pectin was extracted, I believe), stirring often. Again, this may take longer than the recipe strictly calls for. It depends on how much pectin vs. water and other variables like how hot your burners are. Don't be alarmed, just follow the next steps.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Initially, the boil will be very foamy, you should skim some of the thicker scum that forms at this stage. After a several minutes the rolling bubbles will be very small but distinct and clear. After several minutes more the bubbles will grow larger, still clear. Eventually the syrup will start to turn a light golden color. At this point start to watch for thickening. Most preserving guides suggest a candy thermometer be used to monitor temperature (when it reaches 220 degrees fahrenheit it will gel) but I do this by sight. Once the bubbles become larger I dip my spoon into the mixture and pull out tipping sideways, watching the drips fall from the side of the spoon. Once you detect a bit of viscosity turn the burner off or remove from heat and test a bit more. Dip a cool, clean spoon into the jelly mixture and turn it so the liquid runs off the side. The jelly is done when the syrup forms drops or a sheet that hang for a moment before dripping off. If the syrup is still too loose, return to high heat and boil another few minutes, repeating until desired consistency is reached. Remember, you don't need the hot syrup to be anywhere near as firm as you'd like the finished jelly, it should still be liquid and flowing. The jelly will thicken as it cools.

Now your pectin should be pretty clear and a light golden color like watered down apple juice. If canning, skip to Step 8: 'Canning your pectin.'

Step 7: If You Plan to Freeze Your Pectin...

Once the pectin has thickened sufficiently, remove from heat and allow to cool until it is comfortable to the touch. You do not want molten jelly melting your baggies and making a mess of your kitchen. Measure 1 cup portions into small zip-top plastic bags. A canning funnel can make this less messy but it's not necessary. Try to squeeze out excess air before sealing, I like to place my individual portions inside a larger freezer safe zip-top baggie and write the date on the bag before tossing into the freezer.

When using in the future, thaw what you need before adding to your recipe.

Each packet is 1 cup or 8 fluid ounces, sufficient to fortify roughly 4 lbs. of fruit.

Step 8: Canning Your Pectin (Part 1)

While your pectin is still hot, remove your sterilized jars from the water bath canner and place on a clean towel on your counter.

If you have a funnel and ladle, fill each jar to 1/2 inch from the top. Alternately you can use a measuring cup or something with a spout to pour into the jars but be careful, the liquid is extremely hot. Wipe the rims clean with a cloth dipped into the boiling water to make sure there is no residue that could cause the seal to fail. Top with clean lids and screw on rings to fingertip tight, careful not to overtighten.

Step 9: Canning Your Pectin (Step 2)

Carefully lower filled and sealed jars into the boiling water bath pot. The water will stop boiling, wait for it to return to a full boil then process for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, lift the jars out of the bath and place on the clean towel on the counter at least one inch apart. The lids will begin to 'ping' as the vacuum seal snaps into place.

Allow to cool completely, loosen or remove the rings for storage and keep in a cool, dark place.

If any of the tops do not seal, either transfer to plastic baggies and store in the freezer or if you plan to use it within a few weeks you may store it in the refrigerator in the jar.

Each jar is 1 cup or 8 fluid ounces, sufficient to fortify roughly 4 lbs. of fruit.

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    31 Discussions

    Hello Eryn, thanks again for answering me and for your very helpful suggestions. Because i really hate to waste food, when i started to cook sweets, just a few years ago, i gave myself a rule: i had to eat it even though it was bad (trust me there have been a couple of times i regretted my sticking to this rule), anyway as far as my poor persicata is concerned, i decided to put it back in the pan. Your suggestion about the oven made sense, but i have a very old gas oven and the lowest setting i can get is 80-100°, and i didn't know for how many hours i should have kept it there. Instead on the stove top, i can check the temperature while working on it. So i took your pectin and i started to heat it up in the microwave adding a little water until it got liquid again, i also added 3 more lemons (just in case, you never know :-) )and when it reached 104° i added these 2 and kept stirring even though i'm suffering for a tendinitis to my dominant hand (this persicata is killing me). I brought the mixture to 108° for 3-4 times, and finally it seemed right (actually the pain in my hand decided it) I poured it in the mold and almost right away it started to set. Tomorrow i'll let you know. Let's keep our fingers crossed. I enjoy to chat with you and i'll look in the Facebook page. Have a great weekend and thanks again. :-)

    1 reply

    Hello Eryn, first of all trust me, i'm not expert, i try very hard but i keep making the same mistakes over and over: i change something from the original recipe and then…. well, something doesn't turn out right. :-( As far the persicata goes, i thin master chef Iginio uses pectin so he doesn't have to cook it for too long, in this way the taste of peaches is stronger (i'm just guessing), he also specifies the temperature to reach, 106-108°C, while all the other recipes say to keep stirring until it hardens. Anyway i made it, at first it seemed it was perfect, when i poured it n the mold its consistency was even firmer than his, but then… he says that before putting the sugar the persicata has to firm for 12 hours , but mine after 24 hrs was less jelly than my pectin, my guess is that i haven't put enough pectin I read too late your suggestion, :-(, so I only used 90g, only 5 tbsp ) for 2 kg of peaches and 1,9kg of sugar, plus 100g lemon juice, and the other problem could be the humidity. In his lab, the master chef has a drying room at 30°, in my house right now there are 30° but with a 70% humidity, so… either i put it in the oven and let it dry at 80° for …. i don't know how long, or i put it back in the pan and add more pectin, even though i'm a little skeptical about this because in the mold i put wax paper and i'm afraid it could have changed the persicata. What do you think? I wish i read your suggestion before cooking it, but i wanted to have it ready for saturday night. Right, maybe next one. Anyway thanks again you've been so kind and helpful, i'll keep you posted. Have a great weekend. :-)

    1 reply

    Changing up recipes is hard! I think it takes a lot of trial and error to get what you want when you deviate from a recipe.
    I'm sure you're right about the humidity being a factor. Perhaps if you remove your waxed paper you could try your oven at its very lowest setting? If you need the paper to help keep it together try parchment paper so it can go in the oven if you try that.

    Does your oven have a convection option? Maybe try an hour and test it then try another hour and test... I don't want to give you advice that would make it worse. I bet it tastes fantastic regardless of how firm it is. I agree that your chef added pectin to keep the fresher peach flavor. That makes perfect sense to me.

    I don't think trying to reheat and add pectin again would be advisable, I would worry you'd end up with a lumpy, chunky mess. Unless it's REALLY loose.

    I really do feel like we're about at the same skill level so don't take my advice as gospel. Just throwing out some ideas.

    I enjoy chatting with you, I hope whatever you're doing Saturday that you're making this for goes well. You can message me here on instructables anytime you like, or if you like look on Facebook for me at and send me a private message and I'll send you a personal email address. No pressure, not trying to be weird. just if you want to. I love talking about making food. Good luck Saturday and I hope you have a good weekend too!

    Dear Eryn, i made it :-) but i'm not sure if it has the right density, mine is a little firmer than a jello, is it the way it's supposed to be? And while making jam, at which step should i added to the fruit and sugar? I hope you can help me.

    2 replies

    ok, lucky, i watched the video and looked up some recipes to cross-reference. first of all, my hat's off to you, persicata is exactly the kind of interesting food project i love to take on. i've never heard of it but it sounds delicious and it's high peach season here in georgia so i might need to give this a try. ; )

    anyway, most of the recipes i found don't call for pectin at all, so i'm thinking it's more of a fortification than something that is strictly necessary — kind of a guarantee or maybe a modern take on the old style so you're making something (somewhat) more like peach gummies than something like a block of quince like they serve with cheese in spain. it just looks so delicious.

    i'll stick by my advice from last night — since your apple pectin is really firm i'd warm it gently on its own until it's smooth so you don't have to worry about lumps of apple jelly in your peaches. if you're using as many peaches as the chef in your video, i'd go ahead and warm up a half pint's worth of pectin (about 8 oz.). if you want firmer persicata, maybe another quarter pint. i suspect the sugar and peaches on their own would firm up pretty well if you dried them in an oven on low like some of the recipes i found, but i think this recipe makes it more like a softer candy.

    i don't think the extra sugar in the pectin will be an issue, it shouldn't affect the recipe in a chemical sense. if you'd like you could reduce the amount of raw sugar to the peaches *just a bit* if you like, i don't think it will be unsafe. but you probably still need a good bit of sugar for it to set up properly. it seems like the kind of thing you might do this time and make notes and adjust next time if you'd like it a little firmer or softer.

    i feel like you're already an advanced cook so i feel silly giving you advice, but those are my thoughts. and i sure love discussing cooking of all types of things so thank you for this interesting conversation! let me know how it turns out!

    I'm so sorry I didn't answer yesterday! I hope you're not making the next step tonight, I want to read over what you're going to do next and give you the best advice I can. I burned my hand making dinner this evening and I can't type enough to help tonight. So far it sounds like you're in good shape! If you do go to the next stage tonight I suggest warming the pectin a bit so it's not lumpy when you add to the fruit. If it's really firm like you say you probably don't need a whole bunch of it. But hopefully you can wait, I'll check your recipe carefully tomorrow.

    Dear Eryn, thank you so much for answering me so quickly. To be honest i'm not concerned for the amount of sugar, i think it's better be safe than sorry, and i've already made some jams by Ferber and i think they are excellent. I want to make the pectin for a special italian recipe called "persicata", it's a kind of hard gelatin made with peaches, i'll try to insert the link of the video of the italian master chef Iginio Massari who makes it. In his recipe he uses the powder pectin, but i've decided to make my own and ….keep my gingers crossed. :-) The chef uses an amount of sugar that is the same of the weight of the peaches, that's why i didn't want to add other sugar. Anyway thanks again for your very detailed instructions, i'll let you know how it turns out. :-)

    Great recipe and instructions, but please tell me if it's necessary to cook the pectin adding the sugar. Won't be a problem when adding it while making a jam? Adding the sugar has a purpose? Thanks again for this recipe.

    1 reply

    hello, lucky!

    yes, i'm afraid the pectin recipe needs sugar, otherwise it will not set. the sugar and acid from the lemon juice together activate the natural pectin in the apples (and any other fruit).

    when first starting to use this pectin, i recommend searching for recipes that call for it instead of powdered or liquid pectin to get a feel for it. or if you do a lot of canning and don't mind a few batches not turning out perfect, you can just play around with other fruits.

    my rule of thumb for making any fruit preserve is 3 cups sugar to 3 lbs. fruit and the juice of one lemon. it's a safe general ratio. to try out this pectin you'd want to use a low acid fruit like strawberries or blackberries. once it reaches the magic 210 degrees setting temperature add a half cup of the pectin and stir while continuing to cook until it is all dissolved. test the set and if it is not jelled enough ad another half cup. dissolve again and test the set. it should be setting by then and you can put in jars and process your preserves.

    as i mentioned at the beginning of the tutorial, the recipe is taken directly from a european master preserve maker's cookbook, "mes confitures." the problem with her book is that she does not speak english (it's translated) and doesn't elaborate much on the step-by-step process. but the recipes in her book call for this pectin in her other recipes in place of commercial pectins. she calls it "green apple jelly" i believe. for a comprehensive and more accessible book on preserving, you might look up paul virant's "the preservation kitchen" which also contains a recipe for apple pectin stock that contains less sugar.

    european style preserves are quite sweet, but chef virant's (american) recipes are somewhat less sugary. but it is important to remember when making preserves you should never randomly reduce the sugar in a recipe because the ratios of sugar to fruit to acid are what help prevent spoilage and/or dangerous microbes. if you want to make low sugar preserves you will need to find recipes specifically for that.

    thanks for reading my how-to and i hope you have good luck trying it out!


    Packaged pectin store bought, doesn't agree with my husband so I had been looking for some other way to get pectin. Thanks.

    1 reply

    i hope it works very well for you. if you don't have recipes that specifically call for it, you might have to experiment just a bit but it really does work well. i just used some last night!

    A very well done instructable! :) What is Pectin?

    3 replies

    Oh, thank you! Your question made me smile : )
    Pectin is the stuff in fruit that causes jams, jellies and preserves to thicken so it's spreadable instead of runny. Some fruits have a lot of it like apples, some fruits just don't have enough to set on their own. So some recipes for jams or whatever call for pectin. You can buy commercially made liquid or powdered pectin or you can make your own. Making your own is a fun project (for me, anyway) and it's a very old fashioned way to do it, which I like.

    I see, thanks. Sounds like it has something to do with the fibrous or starchy nature of some fruit, maybe?. LOL I'm not very knowledgeable about such things. :)

    i'm more of a cook than a chemist — i'm not very knowledgeable about such things either! haha... but apparently the pectin is a type of carbohydrate called a polysaccharide. so yes, that would probably be a starch, i'd bet. i do know that when you get the conditions right, a combination of heat, the pectin, sugar and acid such as lemon juice, that's what causes the jell. with powder or liquid pectin, you have to add it at a certain specific point in the cooking and you can't cook too long after adding or it will lose its set. i find it a bit fussy.

    another old fashioned way to get around using pectin is to use a LOT of sugar and simply cook the fruit down until it's thickened. adding pectin is a way to preserve a freshness of the fruit you wouldn't otherwise get by cooking it down.

    with this apple pectin stock, you end up with a stable gel that isn't as picky as the boxed stuff. i find it easier to use. it's essentially a weak apple jelly which you can eat on its own, but the idea is that the apple flavor will blend into whatever stronger fruit you're using. berries are low in pectin and as a result, difficult to make into a preserve without added pectin or without cooking forever, this pectin recipe would work well in a berry jam.

    i should say that commercial pectin is made with fruit as well, usually citrus peels or apples. it doesn't have many additives (citric acid and dextrose) so if you use it, it's not evil industrial stuff filled with nasty chemicals, i just prefer the way homemade pectin works. and i like making stuff.

    Thanks for showing the steps! A picky note: If you removed the seeds (which contain some cyanide) before cooking the apples, you could more safely use the left-over pulp for another cooking project.

    3 replies

    hello again nanaverm — I promised I'd check Ms. Ferber's notes about the pulp and what she recommends. She says you can "make a compote with the pulp by putting it through a food mill (coarse disk) and add sugar and spice to taste." Like I said, once I strained my pulp through the muslin it was very smooth and seedless because my sieve was fine enough to keep seeds and skins out, I think it might be nice with a splash of some alcohol like calvados or a sweet Riesling with the spices of your choice and something to sweeten... Yum. Or I'm sure you could use it in the place of unsweetened applesauce in baking.

    Thanks for checking and your explanation. Sounds good!

    that's a good tip! Thank you! also, the second straining through the muslin gives you a nice, smooth skinless/coreless/seedless pulp you could easily use for something else. In fact, I think Ms. Ferber has a suggestion for making a simple compote with it, I'll look it up and post in the comments.