I was minding my own business, reading through my RSS feeds, when I learned something new: I could make my own pectin! [For the uninitiated, pectin is what makes jam set. It is a naturally occurring substance, and a concentrated powder form is commercially available.]
While I knew that store-bought pectin was made from apples, it never dawned on me that I could make it myself. Basically all it involves is cooking down apple peels and cores to condense their natural pectin. Since I was planning on making apple butter anyway, what a great use of the items I normally would have composted anyway (and still could after making it!). If for some reason stores quit carrying it, I could still make jam! How prepared is that?!?!?
So I scheduled an evening for me to be a Depression-Era housewife.
Because I wanted to have this be a single evening project, I decided to try a new apple butter recipe since my normal one takes 12 hours (it’s in a crockpot so I’m not standing over it that long – I’m not that dedicated.)
I got the apple butter going, and I started on the pectin. I put the peels, cores and water to boil.
I followed the timing directions, and I strained off the solids. All that was left was cooking it down until it was done. It seemed really easy. That should have been a red flag!
The author gave a handy tip to tell the done-ness: mixing a tiny sample of the apple goodness with some rubbing alcohol (in a separate container!). When it has cooked enough, this sample will create a gelatinous goo. Mine never goo’d, even after cooking down three times as much as directed.
What was supposed to make a pint made less than half a pint when I finally gave up and canned it.
I was going to use it for half my pectin in my next jam batch, but then I read that over cooking pectin will prevent the jam from setting.
To add insult to injury, I wasn’t enamored with the new apple butter recipe. While it was okay, my slower cooking recipe is much better.
My evening’s results were a bit of a bust, but it shows how much I enjoy canning that I still view it as a good evening.
I just realized that I tend to write more about my cooking fails than successes, because they make for better stories. This is not the correct ratio for how things actually turn out in my kitchen!
Have you ever had a seemingly simple recipe fail on you? or Did you know that in theory you could make your own pectin … or even what pectin was?