Friday, 6 December 2013

Pectin

So pretty.

Crab apples boiling up.
This week I have been busy processing green tomatoes into soups, cake (yes, cake!), marmalade and jam.
It was while gathering the ingredients for the jam that I came across a problem. For jam needs pectin to set. Green tomatoes do not contain enough pectin to make this happen. So you have to use special jam-making sugar (over twice the price of normal sugar - and you use a lot in jam) or you buy pectin.

Sue told me it would be in a packet next to the sugar, but it wasn't. Maybe a bigger store in a bigger town may have had it, but all I could find was a small bottle of what looked like concentrated apple juice which cost a lot. In fact, it was looking as if the pectin was going to be a significant part of the cost of the jam.

Always looking to save a bob or two, I got to thinking. I knew that crab apples contain plenty of pectin so decided I would pick some off the tree in the garden and use those instead. But I could not just add them to the green tomato concoction as I would get the pips and all the nasty bits in my jam. And I wasn't about to stand peeling and coring crab apples!

Instead I found a recipe for making pectin. The actual recipe, here, uses normal apples, but I figured crab apples would be even better.
So I picked my crab apples, added a couple of lemons and some water and boiled the whole lot up until it was soft and mushy. Then into a muslin sieve to drain (best left overnight and not squeezed, to keep the juice clear. I was not this patient but it seemed to work out OK. I figured it wasn't too important for the pectin to be completely clear.)
Finally the juice went back into the saucepan to boil right down until it reached setting point. It was supposed to form a jelly when placed on a cold plate, but this never quite happened. Setting point with jams is never as straightforward as they make it sound in the books. Anyway, when I judged it was time I left it to cool before portioning out into freezer bags. Altogether I got six 8oz portions, each enough for a batch of jam.





1 comment:

  1. Hi John

    Yes you can use crab apples for pectin and you can preserve it to keep for next year. Basically you put your pectin extract into sterilised bottles (sauce sized bottles are ideal) and then pop into a preserving pan with the lids on and then if you can completely submerge the bottle under water or up to the necks if not able to submerge then bring to the boil and then hot water bathe for about 10 to 15 minutes. This takes all the air out of the bottles and preserves your pectin so that you can use it for jams next year when there are no crab apples about. You can also make apple puree from crabs or apple jelly for serving with roast pork. For the apple puree you just have to add extra sugar to compensate for the sour tartness of the apple.

    Take care

    Pattypan

    ReplyDelete

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