|Homemade apple pectin.|
It's important to start with the right apples. I used the small, baby apples that fall because the apple fruits are growing too close together; but you may also use crab apples - or the most sour apples or apple leavings (cores, skins, etc.) you can find. The more sour the apple, the better the pectin.
Feel free to acquire the apples gradually. Wash whole apples, dry, and pop them into a freezer bag until you're ready to make pectin. I had about 8 pint-sized freezer bags full of baby apples and I ended up with 19 jelly jars of pectin. From previous experience, however, I know that the more immature and small the apples are, the less pectin you'll get from them.
How to Make Apple Pectin
You will need at least one large pot, a cutting board and knife, water, a colander and large bowl, some cheesecloth or flour sack dish towels, two small bowls, a spoon, a fork, and some rubbing alcohol.
2. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer for at least 2 hours, adding additional water as needed to keep the apples floating.
3. When the apples look brownish-rose colored and the liquid is a rosey brown, turn off the heat.
4. Place the colander over the large bowl and line the colander completely with cheesecloth or a large flour sack cloth. Carefully pour the contents of the pot into the colander. Cover the contents of the colander with more cheesecloth or a flour sack towel and allow the contents to completely drain. Do not press down on the apples; allow them to drain naturally. You can let this set up sit overnight in the fridge, but I found that letting it drip for two or three hours did the trick.
5. Discard the cooked apples into your compost bin and pour the liquid into a clean pot.
6. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, then simmer for at least 20 minutes.
7. Place a couple of tablespoons of the pectin liquid in a small bowl and place it in the fridge to cool. Pour a little bit of rubbing alcohol into another bowl.
Freezing or Canning Homemade Pectin
If you wish to freeze the pectin, allow it to cool completely, then transfer to freezer bags or containers. Mark the date on the container and use within a year.
To can the pectin, ladle hot pectin into the clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and add lids. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.*
* NOTE: If you live at a high altitude, read this important information about adjusting canning times.
How to Use Homemade Apple Pectin for Jam and Jelly Making
There really are no hard-fast rules for using homemade pectin to set jam, jelly, or similar preserves. Some people say they use 4 tablespoons for every cup of low pectin fruit, others say 1 cup. I think it really depends upon the apples used to make the pectin and whether the fruits in the jam have any natural pectin in them. So you'll have to experiment. You should be able to reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe by at least 10% - some people say 60%. Start out with a little sugar, and add more as needed until the jam sets.