Homemade Liquid Pectin

It was time to thin my Granny Smith apple tree that my husband and I have in the backyard of our valley home.  The June drop was pretty much over (yes, there is such a thing) and the apples were starting to rapidly develop.  Time to thin.

How to make pectin at home

Our Granny Smith apple tree just doesn’t know when to quit!

But wait!  Don’t throw out your thinned apples! If you don’t use chemical pesticides on your apple trees, you can make natural pectin for your future jams and jellies!  With tart, unripe apples like the ones in the picture below, there is a lot of pectin inside, and simply boiling the apples with water releases the pectin!

How to make homemade pectin

This is about seven pounds of apples. After all the worm damage was cut out, I ended up with about six pounds of cut up apples.

Just wash them to get the dust off, chop them up (don’t worry about peeling or taking out the core), and throw the whole apple in a large stockpot.  Since we didn’t use any pesticides on our apple tree this year, the apples had a few worms, so I cut out the damaged parts and used the rest.  The ratio I used for this batch was 6 pounds of apples to 8 cups of water.  I let the mixture simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring quite often so the apples didn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, and squishing the apples against the side of the pot once they got soft.

Once the apples are all mushy, strain through a cheesecloth and let the liquid drain for an hour or two.  Return the liquid to the stove and simmer for another 1/2 hour or until the liquid begins to thicken and is reduced by almost half.  You now have liquid pectin!  If you aren’t using it right away, you can can the pectin in 8 ounce jelly jars and process in a waterbath for 15 minutes.

Making pectin at home

Okay – you can stop laughing now! I know this looks silly, but it works for me! 🙂

Of course, the amount of pectin in each batch will be a bit different, and it isn’t quite as simple to use it as is the store-bought kind.  One thing to know is that each fruit will have different levels of natural pectin, so the amount of fruit to sugar to pectin to acid ratio will be just a bit different with each batch/type of fruit you plan to make into jam or jelly.  Generally, over-ripe fruits have the least amount of pectin and under-ripe fruits have the most.

The fruits with the most natural pectin and acid, needing the least amount added are:  sour apples, crabapples, cranberries, gooseberries, eastern concord grapes, lemons, loganberries, plums, raspberries and citrus skin.  These are the fruits that I remember my grandma making into jam or jelly.  She would boil them for quite some time and I don’t remember her adding any pectin, just lots of sugar.

The fruits with some natural pectin and not as much acid are:  ripe apples, ripe blackberries, sour cherries, most grapes (not concord) and loquats. These are the fruits that will generally need some lemon juice added with pectin, along with the sugar.  Sometimes you can add some not-quite-ripe fruit with the ripe fruit to get a better gel, but the flavor might be a bit more tart.

Apricots, blueberries, sweet cherries, figs, western concord grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, pomegranates and strawberries generally have the least amount of natural pectin and acid, and will require the addition of both.

I have found that if you follow the general directions for making jams and jellies with commercial liquid pectin, you should be good to go with your homemade stuff.  One company that makes liquid pectin, Certo, has recipes online that you can look up.  One package of Certo liquid pectin is 6 ounces, so using a full 8 ounce jelly jar of your homemade pectin should be just right, if you have a very concentrated pectin. And remember to add the liquid pectin into your boiling fruit and sugar mixture when there is only one minute to go, or you could ruin the ability of the pectin to gel.

If you want to test how well you pectin jells, try this trick:  pour some rubbing alcohol into a cup.  Drop in 1/2 teaspoon of your cold homemade pectin.  Then, try to pick up the pectin glob with a fork.  If it stays in one large glob, the pectin is good enough to make your jelly or jam just like the commercial stuff.  If the glob starts to drip from the fork and hangs there, it will form a soft jelly or jam.  If you can’t pick up the blob at all, your pectin is too weak.  If it’s too weak, just boil it a little longer to concentrate the pectin, then try the test again.

Testing homemade pectin for effectiveness

After it cooled off, I tested the pectin in some rubbing alcohol. This blob shows that I got a pretty concentrated pectin and should expect a good set when I make jams and jellies!

Word of warning:  When making my pectin, I always tend to want to squeeze the cheesecloth to make the liquid strain through faster. Yes.  I can be impatient!  This won’t hurt anything, but tends to make a cloudy pectin, and a cloudy pectin might make a cloudy jelly.  If you aren’t entering the jelly into your local fair or trying to impress your mother-in-law, it really doesn’t matter.  It will taste the same.  If you want clear pectin, just let it drain for several hours – maybe even overnight – and don’t squeeze!

How to make pectin from apples

I got six 8 ounce jars of liquid pectin (enough to make six batches of jam or jelly) from apples that most people throw away.  Now that’s sustainable!

Okay, off to gather some blackberries and gooseberries to make some jelly!  How about you – have you ever made your own pectin?

NOTE:  If you would like to see how this turns out – click here to read about making blackberry/gooseberry jelly with the home made pectin!



Manic Mother
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60 thoughts on “Homemade Liquid Pectin

  1. totally neat! thanks for sharing such an awesome tute, hints, tips and pics!! I did do some jelly last year but used the store bought stuff. I had read you could make your own pectin but the instructions were not as clear as these! So cool too that you are able to can the pectin to save it for when you need it. You always have great info, I appreciate that about you!! At the homestead this weekend? Wherever you are, have fun!

    • I can only dream we are at the homestead this weekend. But no, we have to work on our valley home. Finishing up the sprucing up on the outside – painting trim, laying bark in planters, etc.. The homemade pectin is really cool. I have only had one batch of blackberry jelly that didn’t want to gel, but that was okay because thick blackberry “syrup” is wonderful on ice cream! Have a wonderful and memorable weekend!

  2. Excellent advice! I have tried this and canned it. I use it for making jam but it’s available for other recipes that require apple juice. An old German lady taught me to use Tapioca to thicken jams. You hydrate it first.

    • Good evening, Sheri! Tapioca to make jam? I have never heard of that before! It is so true that you learn something new every day – thanks for being my teacher today! Stop by again, Sheri.

      • The first time I tried it I made a Pineapple Apricot Tapioca Jam. The elderly German lady I knew made it. I cooked the pineapple down first, on the lowest heat setting, with sugar added in the later stage of cooking (the cooked pineapple taste will blow your socks off!) then added the diced apricots. I pre-ripen them up so they are soft, full of flavor and at the height of sweetness. Cook down. Add the hydrated tapioca and cook it down until it starts setting up on the spoon. Put into canning jars and process like you always do. Refrigerate before using. The cold helps to set it up. Tapioca comes in 2 sizes, large and small. I like the large.

        • Oh my, that is so cool! My husband is German and I would bet my bottom dollar that his ancestors made jam in the same way. Thank you so much for this information. Have a great weekend!

    • It really isn’t hard at all! Not having to peel or core the apples is the best part. No, actually using it to make jelly is the best part! 🙂 Thanks for visiting, Vickie.

    • Greetings, Shari! You learn something new every day! This really is a win/win situation – your tree gets properly thinned but the fruit doesn’t go to waste, and it’s also nice to know exactly what is going into your jams and jellies. Let me know hour your pectin turns out.

    • Oh, I would love to attend a canning demo like that! I’m not too sure about the science of it, but I sure like canning. Making this pectin is a lot of fun – you should try it!

  3. Hi Vickie, I love this sort of thing, especially because it makes use of something extra/unwanted like thinned fruit! I’ll be curious to hear how the jams/jellies made with this pectin turn out.

    • Hello Jon – I’ll let you know how this batch turns out soon! I will be making blackberry jelly and gooseberry jelly this next week and I will post the results soon after. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Hello Vickie,
    Once again a great post.
    Great, I always find your detailed explanations.
    With me on the job are also apple trees, and they are by no abgeerntet.Wir have us last year times two baskets gepflückt.Die are guaranteed unsprayed, and also taste good.We will this year harvest that again, and perhaps also the pectin itself making. According to your instructions.

    kind regards

    Uwe and Angi

    • Greetings, Uwe! What kind of apples do you grow? Do you make apple jelly and apple pie? Maybe Angi can post a recipe from Deutschland made with apples! Thank you for visiting again. Vickie

      • Hello Vickie,
        the variety of apples at the company where I work, unfortunately I can not name names, because it is in my opinion an old variety in question, I do not know.
        The Apfell tastes slightly sour, refreshing, and has a red yellow skin.
        Angi a look for a recipe for an apple pie and post in her blog.

        Have a great week.

        kind regards


  5. If a sieve is used to get the seeds and peels out after collecting the pectin, the pulp can probably be used as applesauce. Great post!

    • Holy cow – you are right! I would have to return it to the pot and get it hot again, especially if I had left it draining for several hours, just to kill any bacteria or yeast that was settling in. Otherwise this would be a great idea for a tart applesauce! Remember, it would be pretty tart because the apples are not ripe, but since I like tart foods I think I will try this in the future! Now it’s REALLY sustainable! Thank you, Lisa!

  6. So excited since I have developed an anyphlatic allergy to Sulfites have not consumed any jams or jellies as the Pectin contains the allergen.
    Going to try to try your method and will let you know results:)

    • I did not know that commercial pectin contains sulfites – but is that because the apples naturally contain sulfites or is this something that is added in? I know that I am changing up a lot of things that I serve for meals simply because of all the additives in commercial foods lately – it’s disgusting. Some things aren’t even real food anymore! That is one reason I have this blog – to try to explore and show alternatives and “back to basic” methods in our modern way of life, including what we eat! BTW – our grandmothers and their mothers before didn’t use pectin very often for their jams and jellies – they just cooked the fruit down until it was thick enough that it could be spread on bread and not run off. If you wanted to make a jam like this, you don’t even need to put in any sugar if you didn’t want to – just use the sweetness of the fruit! Thanks for stopping by, Micheline. Hope to hear from you again soon!

  7. Awesome that you can make your own! I always wonder how things were done before fancy grocery stores and premade packets of things. I think its amazing that you are able to do it on your own and now I want to try too! Thanks for linking up to Snickerdoodle Sunday, we love learning from you.

    • Yes, yes – you should try to make your own! It isn’t very hard to do but it’s very rewarding. I will show my results when I make some blackberry jelly and maybe even some gooseberry jelly. Of course, there is no guarantee that I won’t end up with syrup, but that’s okay because I just adore blackberry syrup! 🙂 Each batch is a bit different due to the variable amount of pectin in the apples, but once you get the hang of it, you can kind of tell if the pectin is strong enough, especially when you do the rubbing alcohol test. Let me know if you try it and how it works out for you!

  8. Oooh! I’m gonna have to try this. I never want to buy pectin from the store, so my jam is always a tad weird. Thanks so much for sharing this on Savoring Saturdays – I’m going to be featuring it tomorrow night!

    • Thank you so much for the feature, Raia! Wahoo – so cool! Wait until you try this. It isn’t hard to do, though it takes a little bit of time, but it really is worth it! Even if you don’t get the perfect pectin, it will usually work pretty well and if it doesn’t, you can always enjoy your syrup over pancakes! 🙂 After all, I have had flops with the commercial pectin too! Thanks so much for stopping by, and I will see you again tomorrow night!

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  10. You are so awesome! I should try this next apple season! Thankyou so much for your inspiration! My old head just boggles at the things I don’t think of, lol!!

    • Hahaha, sometimes it takes me a while to get my head around these things also! Actually, I was exposed to the homemade pectin years ago when I was a child in 4-H. I remember going to a demonstration at our county extension office for several weekends in a row to see canning demonstrations – and the homemade pectin was one of them. I have always known that if you mix a few tart unripe apples with your ripe ones, you can get apple jelly to gel pretty well without any extra pectin at all – though the jelly might be just a bit tart. But – I enjoy your compliment – thanks!

    • Thank you, Kimberly, for pinning! I enjoy your party very much and anticipate participating every week. Thanks for your comment!

    • Thank you, Angie! I am so glad you liked this post. I went one step further and made some jelly with the homemade pectin – Black Goose Jelly – which is a mixture of blackberry and gooseberry. It turned out really good and I got a solid gel, so this was a good batch of pectin. I have five more jars of the pectin left and can’t wait to make some more delicious jams and jellies! Thank you for hosting your blog party – I appreciate it.

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    • Thank you, Kristin! I am glad you liked the post and am honored that you chose it as a feature! Enjoy the rest of your week.

  13. This is quite interesting – I’ve never thought to make my own! Great tutorial! I appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,

    • Good morning, Jennifer! Yes, it really is cool. However, you need to use unripe apples to get the best pectin. Don’t wait too long to do this! Thanks for visiting.

  14. I just had some yogurt made with apple pectin instead of gelatin and it is Sooooo much better! Thanks so much for posting this. I once got some super wild peach pectin but it was in a brandy bottle with the brandy… I had to heat it to get it out. Very unexpected! Wild peaches are very rich in pectin.

    • That’s good to know about the wild peaches. I would bet your yogurt would be wonderful with wild peach pectin and some wild peaches as flavoring! Of course, I’m sure the Brandy was delicious also. 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

    • Sure! On the right side, the third thingy down there is a place to put in your e-mail address. Whenever I post something new, you will get a notification in your e-mail. I never sell e-mail, nor do I bother you in any other way. It’s just a way to let you know I’ve posted something new! I hope you have a wonderful day!

    • Sometimes I amaze myself, but not always in a good way! 😉 Actually, making the pectin is really easy and very rewarding – and frugal and sustainable and eco-friendly…
      Have a great day, Jann!

  15. I was wondering, if instead of canning the liquid pectin it could be dehydrated and used like the powdered pectin from a store?

    • Hmmm… Good question. To tell you the truth – I don’t know! If anyone else knows the answer to this, please chime in! Thanks for the question, Kathy. I think I will do some research and see if I can come up with anything. Perhaps, when I have some time, I just might try some dehydrating experiments to see if this would work!

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  18. Hi! I am new to trying to make jams and jellies. I have a question though. How long is the pectin shelf life. I do. It want it to go bad if I do not use it fast enough.

    • Hmmmm… not sure of the shelf life! I do know that canned goods stay good for a while. And I did use my pectin a year after I had made it with good results. However, I used up all the pectin I had canned and so now I don’t have any more to experiment with!! Unfortunately, we sold our home to move up to our homestead over a year ago and I no longer have that beautiful Granny Smith apple tree. ;( Until our new apple trees mature, I need to find someone with some unripe apples to make some more!