If you’re interested in making your own preserves, you will need pectin. Pectin is a thickening agent derived from fruit. All fruit has pectin, but some have higher concentrations of pectin than others. When you make jams and jellies, the added pectin makes your preserve achieve the correct consistency. You can buy powdered pectin at the store, but it’s easy to make yourself. Students taking cooking classes in Austin can use their pectin to preserve summer fruits that will soon be out of season.
Start to finish: 24 hours (60 minutes active cooking)
Yields: 1 1/2 cups
- 7 large, tart apples
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Wash the apples, but do not peel them.
- Cut apples into quarters, core included.
- Put apples in a large pot, add water and lemon juice. Bring mixture to boil.
- Let boil for 40 minutes, stirring at the halfway mark.
- Strain the mixture through cheesecloth. Let the mixture strain overnight to get the most pectin.
- Boil the pectin and cook until reduced by half – about 20 minutes.
- Refrigerate to use within four days, or store in the freezer for up to six months.
Choosing your apples
The type of apple used is very important for this recipe, and will make or break your pectin’s effectiveness. As an apple ripens, its pectin is broken down. This means that the riper your apples, the less pectin you’ll have in your final product. To figure out how ripe an apple is, observe its appearance. The best apples will be green, harder than ripe apples, and will taste sour. These apples have the most pectin and will be best for this recipe.
As you begin working with your homemade pectin, you’ll become familiar with how much you’ll need for different recipes. Start off using the amounts suggested, and adjust as needed for the strength of your pectin.