Pretty, pretty pectin

Pectin, as I understand the science of jams and canning, is the magic ingredient that makes the difference between a hard set and no set at all in jams and jellies. But food control freak that I am, I’ve never been a fan of adding commercial pectin to jam because I like to know exactly what I’m using and I don’t like the gluey, overset texture that commercial pectin seems to give. I don’t mind a syrupy jam anyway– I spoon it into plain, Greek yogurt or pour it over ice cream — and I’d rather throw a grated apple or a handful of redcurrants into a jam from a pectin-poor fruit and encourage things to set this way.

But our latest blueberry picking venture took place at a farm with crabapple trees lining the driveway, and the thought of making my own pectin seemed a little too good to miss. It took about a minute to pick half a punnet of crabapples, and another 30 to simmer the roughly chopped fruit (peels, stems, seeds and all) down to a  glorious pink mush with a cup or so of water. Then I strained it through cheesecloth for an hour or so, squeezed the gunk out as hard as I could without tearing the cheesecloth, and measured the gooey liquid into ice cube trays so I could freeze it and use as needed.

I don’t know if the pectin works, but the little iced-pectin jello cubes are really rather pretty.

Blueberry-something jam is on the agenda for this week, perhaps with a cube or two of home-made pectin to try to encourage a set.

Watch this space for details.


  1. Barbara Barker said

    I know of two kinds of crabapples, the ones that are about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and the tiny ones planted as ornamental trees. The photo looks like the tiny ornamental variety as the ones I’ve used in the past were much larger. Here in central New York the early robins love eating the tiny crabapples when they arrive and the ground is still covered with snow. If these tiny ones are usable, awesome, no one ever picks them for anything.

    • Cea said

      These were just over an inch across. Ornamental trees, definitely. Did make a glorious pectin.

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