June 23, 2016

More on Homemade Apple Pectin: Testing & Storing

When I made my apple pectin the other day, I had no way of knowing for sure that it would work; that it would turn my mashed figs into jam. I knew from Joy of Cooking that grain alcohol can be used to test the pectin content in various fruit juices, but that's something I don't keep on hand.  I just figured that if it was a fail, I'd boil my pectin down more and try again. I was fortunate to have good success. My jam gelled well. Now, thanks to Dani at Eco Footprint ~ South Africa and Jake at The Homestead Laboratory I've learned is that it doesn't have to be grain alcohol to test for pectin. It can be common rubbing (70% isopropyl) alcohol.

The test is simple. Simply pour a glug of alcohol into a small glass and add about a teaspoon of the liquid pectin. Let it sit for a minute and then try to fish it out with a fork.


The pectin gels in the alcohol. If it doesn't, then the apple juice needs to be cooked down to concentrate the pectin in it. The results didn't surprise me, but I'm glad to know how to test future batches. It will also be handy for testing the natural pectin content of other fruits.

After I made my Spicy Fig Jam (recipe here), I still had quite a bit of pectin left. It is said to keep for about a week in the refrigerator, but I knew I wouldn't be using it up that quickly. Two options for longer term storage are freezing or canning it.

Freezing was certainly tempting, except that I don't have much room in my freezer. Plus, I always seem to lose track of the stuff that's in there. Things on my pantry shelves, however, are always in view and easier to remember and find. I decided to can the rest of my apple pectin.


I filled five half-pint jars. It's processed in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Did you know you don't need an official "canner" for water bath canning?
All you need is a pot deep enough to cover the jars 1-2" with boiling water
plus a rack on the bottom to allow boiling water to circulate under the jars.

Now I have homemade pectin ready and waiting for when I need it.


To read Dani's and Jake's informative posts, follow the links below:
Eco Footprint ~ South Africa, "Making your own pectin for your fruit preserves"
The Homestead Laboratory, "Fall Rhubarb and Crabapple Pectin"


16 comments:

  1. Leigh - I'm so glad you're testing your pectin strength. At least you can rest assured that weak pectin won't result in jam failure... ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! And such a simple way to help ensure success. :)

      Delete
  2. Cool Beans...I love a good 'test'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've learned to call anything I do "experimental." I've learned that there is always going to be something to deal with, so "experimental" makes it seem more like I was expecting to make tweaks rather than simply failing. :) Even so, there's an awful lot of trial and error that goes on around here.

      Delete
    2. Ha, me too!! ....also 'engineering study/prototype', usually involves some 'field design'.

      Delete
  3. Well besides the pot and rack to can, you need a gas stove or at least not a glass cooktop! Ask me how I know this Leigh. I'm making a first foray into canning since Ball has put out an electric canner. It's obviously more expensive but then again, setting up a two burner camp stove would be about the same cost and with fire season that just makes me nervous. With luck I won't poison all my friends and family in the coming weeks.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point about the glass cooktop! That's exactly why I didn't want one.

      I love that you got an electric canner! The nice thing about that is that you could actually use it outside if you wanted, to keep the heat and humidity out of the house. I think you'll do great! It's a wonderful sense of accomplishment to admire your shelves filled with your own home canned goodies.

      Delete
  4. So glad you have a way to test & now you have some on hand, yeah! Are you using Tattler lids?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good eye! Yes, those are Tattlers. :)

      Delete
  5. Sounds like that worked out great for you and you never have to buy pectin! Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least not as long as I have plenty of apples. One of these days my crabapple tree will be producing well and then I'll have pectin and vinegar galore.

      Delete
  6. Thank you and Dani and Jake! And thanks, Leigh, for specifying the concentration of the isopropyl alcohol. I always try to buy the 90% so it's good to know this method works with the less expensive 70&

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It doesn't take much alcohol, and I think whatever you had on hand would work. My Joy of Cooking cookbook said to use grain alcohol, but I wasn't about to go out and find some of that just to check pectin. This was simpler and works!

      Delete

Welcome! Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. I try to reply to all comments and return blog visits if I can.