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Sep 4, 2007 12:57 AM

ISO: "no commercial pectin" pear jam recipes

I spent my Labor Day laboring in the kitchen, attempting some pear jam with the lovely pears I picked off of the tiny pear tree in my backyard. My first time canning, and I did my research, have the Ball Blue Book (yes it really does seem to be a great "canning bible"), as well as fond memories of helping my mother and grandmother can all sorts of yummy things while I was a child. I used the pear jam recipe from the Ball book, which uses a pouch of liquid pectin. Everything seems to have come out fine (got the lovely "pop/ping" of the jars sealing, what a magical sound!), but I think the jam is way too "jelly-like"/"gelled" for my taste. I was hoping for something more...I guess along the lines of applebutter consistency (but with a tiny bit more jell). I'm thinking that a recipe that doesn't use pectin (at least, the liquid or powdered kind) and maybe(?) just an apple tossed in the mix for the "natural" pectin would give me what I'm looking for.

So, to make a short story long, hah, does anyone have any tried and true recipes to share for pear jam that doesn't use "commercial pectin"? I know you cookingwhiz 'hounds can help out this BabyCannerGirl (who is attempting some apple butter and apple sauce later this week with the gazillion apples she snagged from a poor local neglected apple orchard).

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  1. I have made dozens of preserves without using commercial pectin. I don't mind my preserves being a bit runnier than most commercial versions (i.e. you need a spoon to get the preserves out of the jar -- a knife won't work). The upside of this approach is that you can use less sugar and the fruit flavors really shine, especially if you slow cook the preserves. I have found the "Gourmet Preserves" cookbook to be a useful tool because it highlights a lot of no-pectin, low-sugar recipes. If you want to use no pectin and reduce the sugar, but you still want it to gel pretty well, then you'll want to use apples because they've got a ton of pectin. But there are other options to consider. Check out that cookbook.

    3 Replies
    1. re: glutton

      Thanks for the encouragement, Glutton. I'm glad to know that it can be done. (: However, right now, I am not in a position to be able to afford to buy any more cookbooks (or any books for that matter...much to my dismay) I was hoping that other 'hounds might have some recipes to share with me while i still have useable pears in the house.

      But, for my evergrowing cookbook collection, who is the author of the "Gourmet Preserves" book you mentioned? I can add it to my wishlist. (:

      1. re: chocolateninja

        If you can find Helen Witty's Fancy Pantry or Good Stuff cookbooks in the library, her jam/preserves recipes are great, and most don't use pectin. There's a fabulous vanilla pear butter recipe in Good Stuff that I swear by. I'll see if I can look up the recipe--it's a lovely and very elegant spread. I generally half the amount of sugar she calls for and still get very good results.

        1. re: chocolateninja

          The author is Madelaine Bullwinkel. I found used copies on Amazon:

      2. I'm certain I've read that citrus peel (and maybe lemon juice?) contains pectin. As do apple skins and cores, as you mentioned. Do try a google search for a recipe. You shouldn't have trouble finding something!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kagey

          The citrus peel contains the pectin, especially the white pithy part. June Taylor, the grand dame of preserves, uses a big bag of lemons to get natural pectin into her preserves. There is a video on that shows her technique.

        2. The best test I've found for no-pectin gel is to put a few small plates in the fridge while you're making the jam. As the jam begins to thicken and starts to sheet, instead of drip, off of a big spoon, put a dab on one of the cold plates and let the jam cool to room temperature. Then draw a line with your finger through the jam. If the jam runs back together again, it needs more boiling. If the line stays then the jam is ready. Too much boiling means too sticky/thick of a jam. You can kind of rescue a jam that's boiled too much by adding a bit of water to it, but it's best to do it right the first time.