Homemade pectin is very easy to make. And with jam season right around the corner, it’s time to get the recipes out!
Strawberries from Florida are just starting to come into season. And one of the best ways to preserve them is to make jam. There’s nothing better than fresh strawberry jam on a slice of hot homemade bread. Strawberries can be crushed and spread on things, but they last a lot longer in a jam.
What is Pectin?
Pectin is a naturally occurring carbohydrate that is present in many fruits such as apples, blackberries, gooseberries, crab apples, cranberries, grapes, medlars, plums, and quince. It’s also present in citrus peels, which is why you often see marmalades made from orange, tangerine, or grapefruit peels. Only small amounts of pectin are found in fruits like strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pears, peaches, and raspberries. You can often make jam from fruits with high amounts of pectin without adding more, but those with small amounts will need more added to it.
Do you still need sugar if using pectin in jam?
It’s a common belief that if you use a carbohydrate like pectin that you won’t need sugar and can use a sugar substitute. This is true to a certain degree, but pectin needs a sugar of some sort to work. You can use regular sugar, or another sugar substitute like maple syrup, agave, rice syrup, stevia, or honey. Most all sugar substitutes will result in a softer set in your jams. (If you do choose to use stevia, monk fruit or something similar, make the ratio no more that 50/50. Any more stevia than that will result in a softer jam as well.)
You can make a no-sugar-added jam, but as stated before, pectin needs sugar to react. Without sugar, you’ll likely get a softer set just as you would with a sugar substitute.
Note: if you just want to buy a natural pectin, we recommend this one.
- 1 pound crab apples, washed, but not peeled or cored
- 1½ cups filtered water (find the best water filtration systems here)
Add ingredients to a pot and simmer 30-40 minutes. Cool a bit, then strain. Your liquid will be the pectin.
To make jam, use 4-6 tablespoons of pectin per cup of mashed fruit. Add ¾-1 cup of sugar, or ½ cup sugar and ½ cup stevia or other sugar substitute.
If you don’t use all of your pectin right away, you can freeze it or can it in a water bath.
If you don’t have apples handy, you can use a pound of citrus peels instead. Cut off as much of the pith (white stuff inside of the peel) as possible and only use the outermost part of the peel.
Strawberry Jam With Homemade Pectin
Like I said in the beginning, I love fresh strawberry jam! Here is a simple recipe that you can make in less than an hour.
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, washed, cored, and mashed
- ¼ cup pectin
- ½ cup raw sugar
Simmer strawberries and pectin together. Add sugar and simmer a few more minutes. Can in a water bath processor or freeze for up to three months. I usually let some sit and cool before canning to be sure it will be the right consistency. If the strawberries are too sweet (although that never happens!) you can add a bit of lemon or lime juice.