In past blog posts, we’ve shared how to make a variety of apple items—apple cider, apple butter, and more! It’s safe to say that you can do a lot with apples. Today we’re going to take a look at a different kind of apple item: apple pectin. We’ll get into what pectin is and what you can do with it, but we’ll start by saying that it is a key ingredient for homemade jelly or jam.
What is Pectin?
Google says it best! Pectin is “a soluble gelatinous polysaccharide that is present in ripe fruits and is extracted for use as a setting agent in jams and jellies.” Simply put, pectin is a gelling agent found in many fruits and vegetables. As far as fruits go, citrus fruits and apples contain the most pectin. In the vegetable category, carrots and tomatoes contain the most.
Gelatin vs. Pectin
If pectin is a gelling agent, what makes it different from gelatin? There are a few key differences:
- Pectin is a fiber; gelatin is a protein.
- Pectin comes from fruits and vegetables; gelatin comes from animals.
- Pectin is commonly used in jellies and jams; gelatin is more often used in dairy products like yogurt.
How to Make Apple Pectin
You should be able to find pectin at your local grocery store, but you can also make it yourself! The benefit of making your own apple pectin is knowing exactly what your pectin is made of. You can use local apples (get some from Robinette’s, if you’re near the Grand Rapids area!) to make sure your pectin is the very best. Making apple pectin is simple; check out the process below.
- 6 green apples
- 5-6 cups of water
- Place the apples in a large pot. Add enough water to almost cover the apples. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer, gently stirring occasionally, until the apples start to become mushy. This can take as long as 2 hours.
- Strain in the refrigerator overnight through a jelly bag or through a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Compost the pulp left in the bag or colander. The slightly thick liquid that strained into the pot is apple pectin (you should have about 2 1/2 cups). Once the pectin has cooled, follow the instructions below to test if the pectin is ready to use.
- To test the pectin, add 1 tablespoon of isopropyl alcohol to a small glass or jar; add 1 teaspoon of the cooled pectin. Let it stand for a few minutes then dip a fork into it. Your fork should come out with a congealed blob of pectin. If not, reduce it a bit more on the stovetop and try again.
Use your apple pectin to make homemade jellies and jams!