So what is pectin?
Pectin is a natural occurring thickening agent found in fruits and vegetables. Commercially, it’s made from apples and citrus fruits as they are especially high in pectin.
Which type of pectin should I use to naturally sweeten my jam or jelly?
There are three different pectin methods you can use to naturally sweeten your jam or jelly.
Method 1: Homemade Pectin made from crabapples or under ripe green apples
Last year I posted a recipe on making your own pectin. Making your own pectin allows you to use a natural sweetener like honey, however, it does take an extra day of making the pectin. It takes about 2 cups of apple pectin per batch of jam or jelly to thicken and you need to cook the fruit down for awhile to achieve the desired consistency. In order to achieve the best consistency, it’s best to use fruits high in pectin and make sure to add a tablespoon or so of lemon juice if using a low acid fruit. Definitely a method for the do it yourselfer!
Method 2: Using the fruits natural pectin to gel.
Another method to naturally sweeten your jam or jelly is to use the naturally occuring pectin in the fruit. This method allows you to skip a box by simply cooking the fruit down for a period of time and ensuring that there is enough acid by using lemon juice.
- Cranberries, quinces, green apples, crab apples, blackberries, gooseberries, concord grapes, plums, and orange and lemon rind contain pectin and acid. You can cook these down in large amounts without additional boxed pectin to gel your jelly or jam.
- Peaches, pineapple, cherries, pears, strawberries, and rhubarb contain practically no pectin when ripe, so pectin or some other gelling substance must be added.
- Pears and sweet apples are high in pectin but contain practically no acid and therefore require the addition of lemon juice.
Now, if you were to combine a high pectin fruit with a high acid fruit, you could create a jelly by cooking them down together. This is a great and natural alternative to making jelly without the added use of a boxed pectin. However, in order to make a jelly like this, you will need to cook the fruit down for up to 30 minutes eliminating many nutrients and it’s very time intensive.
Another added benefit of using Pamona’s Universal Pectin is that if you understand the different pectin and acid levels in fruit, you can make any combination of jelly that you’d like. You can start to experiment with added herbs and spices. It takes ordinary jelly to another level! Pamona’s Universal has an extensive list of recipes, however, it can be a bit confusing to understand. In order to truly grasp this method, I recommend the book, Stocking Up, The Third Edition of the Classic Preserving Guide. They have an amazing list of tried and true jam and jelly recipes using this style of pectin with raw honey.
Below is a step by step pictorial on how to use Pamona’s Universal Pectin using strawberries to give you a better idea on how easy and quick this method is.
Step 1: Combine the dry pectin with honey. (For this particular recipe, I used 2/3 cup of honey)