Pectin is a gelling agent most commonly used to give a jellylike consistency to marmalade, jams and even jelly beans. It is also used as a thickening agent in sweets and as a stabiliser in fruit juices. Although pectin is available at local supermarkets and food stores, creating your own pectin gel allows you to make an all natural jam or jelly. By following a few simple steps, you can make your own apple pectin gel which will turn your fruits and berries into mouth-watering jams, jellies and preserves.
Wash 1.36kg. of tart green apples that are barely ripe and unpeeled. Granny Smith apples are a good choice. Cut the apples into large chunks. Put them in a pot. Be sure to include peels and cores. Add 4 cups of water and 2 tbsp of lemon juice to the apples.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to boil the mixture until it reduces by almost half. This takes about 30 to 45 minutes. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth. Pour the strained juice back into the pot and boil for another 20 minutes.
Test the pectin concentration when you make your jam and jelly. Remove a spoonful of your first batch before pouring it into jars. Hold an ice cube against the bottom of the spoon to cool it. Determine if the jam sets at your desired thickness. If the jam consistency does not appear thick enough, add 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 2 tbsp more of your pectin. Bring to a rolling boil for one minute and test again.
Pour the reduced juice into sanitised jars with lids that form a tight seal. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
Pectin is a source of dietary fibre and is a naturally occurring substance found in higher concentrations in apples, plums, guavas, quince gooseberries, oranges and other citrus fruits. The amount of pectin varies according to the fruit. To test for pectin content in a fruit, mix 1 tsp of cooked, cooled, crushed fruit with 1 tbsp of rubbing alcohol in a container that can be closed tightly. Gently shake the container. A fruit that is high in pectin will form a solid gelatinous lump. A fruit that is standard in pectin content will form a few jellylike substances. Low pectin fruits form small, particles that look like rubber. Since rubbing alcohol is poison, do not eat or use the tested pectin in any jam preparation. The pectin content in all fruit is generally higher when the fruit is barely ripe and lessens as it matures.