Daring Cooks Preserve: How to Make & Preserve Apple Pectin

When I hear the wind bellow and scream,
And see yellow leaves scurry
Ochre ones run
And russets  scamper
Into tree-line paths and winding driveways
Gardens and front porches too
When I feel the cold rain drops
And watch them fall on the slant
I know that Fall is come
The season of apples and cake
Cobblers, butter and fruit
And sunshine in blue skies
And rain. Lots of rain.
I love Autumn.



Blog-checking lines: The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.



Personally, I enjoy the Daring Cooks because I’m sometimes challenged to try new recipes, and often given a great opportunity to experiment with those that I’ve bookmarked for a while. This month’s challenge fitted the latter bill to the core. It was almost a year ago when I first lauded Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for even alerting me to the fact that pectin was more accessible than opening up a pack of pectin powder. Thanks to the Daring cooks, it has come to pass.

So what is apple pectin?

Apple pectin is a liquid extract  made by boiling fresh or frozen from fresh apple leavings (skin/peel/core/pips) or whole fresh apples in water till the apple bits turn soft and mushy and the liquid is transformed in colour and infused with a delicate apple flavour and fragrance – perfect fruit stock.

IMG_1821The primary purpose of apple pectin is 1) to replace the powdery store-bought stuff and 2) to act as a ‘setting’ agent for jams and jellies.

Why make your own apple pectin?

1) It is a great way to use up fall’s bounty of apples and its leavings – the part of the apple which you or fussy family members are loathe to consume. Like the skin, which some kids in this home abhor. Like the pips and cores which are not needed in any manner of apple cake. And the beauty? You can collect the bits, one set at a time and stash them away in the deep freezer till D-day, or till you have to preserve something for a Daring Cooks challenge.

IMG_1815 IMG_1823

2) It gives you greater control and flexibility when making jams because unlike powdered pectin, it can be cooked for much longer without affecting the taste or texture of the jam. With this pectin, you can control the amount of sugar your use and the ‘set’- soft or firm or somewhere in between.

3) You can preserve it by canning or freezing. Perfect for a challenge.

4) It is a great foodie card to have in your arsenal. Just for the fun of it.

5) It is easy, requires no special knowledge with just a little care at the end to ensure the finished product can be stored safely.

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Must you use specific apples?

According to The Forager, it is best to use under-ripe apples that are still a bit green, hard, and sour. Ripe apples contain less pectin, but the level varies greatly from one tree to the next; some varieties are suitable when ripe, while some have virtually no pectin by that time. Over-ripe apples are the worst. You can use your damaged or misshapen apples for making pectin’.

I personally used hard apples, which were just ripe but were all shades of green and red, not the pure granny smith green.

How to make pectin
Whole apples or apple leavings
Enough water to cause the apples to float


Celia suggests peeling and coring the apples, if using whole fruit and saving the pulp for apple sauce, butter or pies.  Whatever you’re using – whole apples or leavings, place all the peel and cores into a large pot and add enough water till they float, only just. You want to cut out needless cooking time by not over-watering so as to ensure you get pectin rich liquid sooner rather than later.

You could also use the apples, pulp included. According to Celia, it produces a slightly nicer tasting pectin, and you can pass the leftover pulp through a food mill to make apple sauce or apple butter.

Next step – cover and bring the pot to a rolling boil, reduce the heat and allow to boil gently, ensuring the pan is covered for a couple of hours or until the solids turn soft  and the apples become a rosy mushy brown.

Once boiled, line a colander with a clean piece of cheesecloth and pour boiling water through it to sterilise the fabric – superb tip, again from Celia. Thank you.

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 to drip for several hours or overnight, folding the ends of the cloth over the top of the apples, then cover gently with the stockpot lid to keep bugs and insects out.

Once the liquid has completely drained, remove the colander and re-heat the pectin until boiling. You will need to reduce the pectin until it reaches the required strength. I boiled mine for about an hour. Just because.


And then I tested it. Caveat emptor: The test yields a poisonous mixture which should NOT be consumed. Be careful. To test, cool a couple of tablespoons of pectin in the fridge (Celia says the test won’t work if the pectin is hot). Then pour some methylated spirit/rubbing alcohol into another bowl. Tip the cold pectin into it.


If you’ve made decent pectin, it will coagulate in the spirit, and you should be able to lift it out as a jellied blob with a fork.  This pectin-spirit combo is lethal. Please make sure no-one accidentally eats or drinks it. Discard.


I was glad to see my thin jellied blob too.

How to preserve apple pectin

In order to store the pectin, you can


1) Freeze it – I froze a couple of cups.

2) Can it – I canned 3 jars. One didn’t seal properly and I discovered it overnight so I binned it. One went into my delicious strawberry cardamom smoothie jam and the other made some mint jelly which is seriously waiting on lamb shanks. I first sterilised the jars in by putting them in a pan with cold water and bringing them to the boil. After boiling for about 10 minutes, I removed them and set them on a clean wooden board. While the naturally dried out, I let my pectin cook a bit and then poured it into the jars, leaving about a centimetre or two of head space. Then  I sealed them and processed the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. After which I made labels for the fun of it, took photos and then went to bed. Or had dinner. Not exactly the order of occurrence but never mind.


And that’s it, all you need to know about apple pectin. Thanks to Celia, who also gives a great tip on checking the pectin before use

Tip : When you go to use your homemade pectin, do what Pete (her husband) 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 should be fine.

If you want to read more or know more on the subject, please check out the following links :

The Forager on making pectin
Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial with her apple pectin primer
Tigress in a jam and green apple pectin
Toast and making apple pectin jelly


Thanks again to John of Eat4Fun for hosting this month’s challenge. I enjoyed it!

Have you made pectin before? Any tips to share? Enjoy your weekend. Stay blessed X X X

[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Daring Cooks Preserve: How to Make & Preserve Apple Pectin – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]


  1. I’m a bit concerned about the poison factor. It’s mentioned a couple of times in your post. At what point is it not poisonous and/or lethal?

    • The pectin isn’t poisonous. The test sample mixed with the rubbing alcohol is, which is what needs to be discarded. It’s just a test sample to see if it will set up okay. You don’t need to do the sample, but it is kind of nice to know that your jam/jelly will set up okay.

    • Your mixing rubbing alcohol with cold apple pectin to see if it sets. That’s Poisonous dump when finished. So no one eats.

  2. I use the boiled apples and cores and make horse treats out of them or dog biscuits. Of course the hens don’t mind them but the horses love them.

  3. Thank you for your clear instructions on making Pectin. I’m certainly going to try it.
    …but now I have this (perhaps crazy) idea… I rarely can food and am loathe to take up so much freezing space, also, living alone I don’t really make jam/jellies very often, so I’m wondering whether it would be possible to boil down the pectin considerably and the DEHYDRATING it? Make my own “powdered pectin” so to speak. It would probably keep forever too, if stored properly (vacumed and stored in the dark).
    What do you think, would it be possible?

  4. Thanks so much for this post. I make and freeze at least a dozen apple pie and can applesauce each year. Now I don’t have to throw out all the peels and pits. I also like to make jam, but hate to have so much sugar in it. This will be a real savings for me.

  5. Someone else asked, but I didn’t see your answer. How does amount of homemade pectin vary when compared for powdered pectin? Most recipes will call for powdered pectin, so it’d be lovely to know how to convert the recipe to use this homemade pectin.

  6. This same delightful woman, informed me that elderberries have their own pectin, also. You *must* cook it with the stems though. Now tell me, is there anyone out there that does not *hate* the fussy work of removing the stems??? hehe Voila, another source of pectin…with another flavour, if you dare….

  7. A dear lady friend of mine (of Mennonite background) and I, were having a conversation one day, as I was helping her do house tasks… I was asking her if she had a recipie for apple jelly, because I did not know how much pectin to put in it… She was a great source for getting the old recipies from! I had picked 2 bushels of wild apples from an abandoned tree and wished to make jelly… Her next words shocked me, literally. “You do not need pectin, apples have their own. If you cook with the skins and seeds, then sieve out the unwanted, the jelly will set by itself.” I was very nervous that year, as I made my wild apple/cranberry jelly without pectin, but it worked just fine! She also told me the test when cooking it down, to know if it will set… Take a large metal spoon, must be metal and slowly turn it sideways and watch the jelly…does it gel into a soft blob, right from the pot? Then it is done. I have never had such wonderful jelly ever, using store pectin…
    Each year, I would go gather those wild apples, each year cutting out worms from the sinks full of tiny little orbs. Cook all in pot, with the cranberries, sieve. From that wonderful bounty, I create 1) jelly, 2) jam, 3) apple cranberry sauce, heaven paired with turkey! But, I never thought of making my own pectin…. *grin*

  8. Thanks so much for sharing! I was wondering what ratio of pectin do you recommend using in jams? Also, how long do you think it will keep if refrigerated? Take care!

  9. Fabulous post. Thank you. I tried making apple pectin with green apples I had thinned from my tree prior to bagging apples for pest control (see post on my site if interested). I made berry jam from it using half as much sugar but did not know how to test the pectin strength. The jam was great though, the best I have ever made. Your blog has great photos and information. I am planning to give it another try today using your tips.

  10. […] to give it some shine, I brushed on some softened strawberry jam. And it was […]

  11. Thank you for the lesson on making my own apple pectin. We are a certified organic farm and I am always looking for C.O. Pectin. So, why don’t I just make and preserve my own? We are an apple orchard! Do you have ratios of the pectin to use for certain fruit juice amounts for jellies. I would be interested in learning how much of this liquid pectin is used in say 6 cups of red currant juice to make a jelly. Or, is the made pectin equivalent to the commercial liquid pectin one can purchase? Once opened what is the best before date of the made apple pectin? I am assuming it would need to be kept in the fridge once opened. I am looking forward to sharing information about this!

    • (10/30/10) Thanks for your comment on my ‘How to make & preserve Apple pectin’

      You asked a few questions which I’ll do my best to answer:

      Do you have ratios of the pectin to use for certain fruit juice amounts for jellies.

      I don’t have exact ratios. However, I’ve made a strawberry jam using 2 cups of strawberries (subsequently pureed) to 2 cups pectin. See the post https://www.kitchenbutterfly.com/2010/09/07/strawberry-cardamom-smoothie-jam/

      I think it would depend on the type of fruit to be ‘jellied’ and how pectin rich that is.

      Or, is the made pectin equivalent to the commercial liquid pectin one can purchase?

      I’ve never seen/bought commercial liquid pectin though I know it exists. The truth is the strength of homemade pectin will vary with the kind of apples used, how long it’s cooked down and other variables whereas commercial ones would be more stable.

      Once opened what is the best before date of the made apple pectin? I am assuming it would need to be kept in the fridge once opened.

      I’ve made apple pectin twice. I canned some but then used them almost immediately and I have some in the freezer as we speak, where they can last up to a year.
      I have kept some in the fridge as well but used it within a couple of days. I expect it could last at least a week but I wouldn’t want to refrigerate it much longer.

      Hope this helps.

      Kind regards,

  12. […] home, I began by making some pectin from whole apples, just to see if the resultant pectin stock would have more gelling capacity. It […]

  13. Wow! This may be the single most informative post I’ve ever read. I LOVE it!! Never did I even imagine making my own apple pectin…and now I’m on the edge of my seat…wanting to go apple picking immediately! Your blog is fantastic…informative…beautiful photos…beautiful writing… 🙂

  14. Wow, did you compose that poem by yourself? At first I was looking for an attribution, and then I realized it was written by you. You’re so multi-talented!

    I love the 3rd picture you posted most. So rustic.

    I’m planning to make marmalade soon. Wonder if the process is similar…

    • Thanks Sophia, I’m smiling! You could definitely use pectin in marmalades, just add to the fruit when ready for the final boil after the prepping the citrus zest.

  15. What a fabulous post Ozoz! I had never even heard of apple pectin before, this is why I love reading food blogs. And I love the idea of storing the “discards” (yes, I have one of those people who doesn’t like skin too), until ready to use.

    And that’s a lovely poem you wrote. Happy autumn days to you 🙂

  16. Good information there. And, I was just wondering how to test fruit for pectin content. Starfruits or Carambola to some, seem to always have a haze in the wine fermentation and after. I will be testing for pectin. There’s likely more than I’ve been allowing for when adding pectic enzyme. They do set up nicely for jam.

  17. Well done on not only making something really interesting and educational for us to read about, but also for making a deadly poisin. I’m not sure what I’m more impressed by 🙂

    Also, it’s funny but although I am SO excited that spring is here for us, reading the start of your post made me pine a little for autumn.

  18. AMAZING!!!!! So, do you use this to make other preserves, or do you also eat it? What do YOU do with it? I think this is brilliant. I am just in the middle of apple crushing, actually. Wish I had saved some for this. Maybe I will scrounge from others…. I need to do this, too. I am SOSOSOS glad you have such similar interests as me as I love learning new things like this.

  19. I learned so many new things in this post! And I of course loved your poem…such a great way to start things off! I have heard of using pectin in recipe, but I’ve never thought of making it. I’m eager to try it now. This would work well with apples that have spots or are just past their prime.

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