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Cookbook with pectin free jam/jelly recipes?

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Is there any particular book that you can recommend for me? I am not adverse to sugar in my jams and jellies, it's just that pectin is getting very expensive. I make large amounts of preserves in the summer and fall, sell them, and donate the proceeds to charity.

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  1. you could try making your own pectin from green (as in not quite ripe) apples -- there's a video here on Chow telling how to do it.

    All jam needs pectin...if you want to avoid using commercial pectin, you need to either stick with fruits that have a high natural level of pectin, or add the apple pectin I mentioned above.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      I think that fibre may help to thicken jams naturally too, if you simmer them long enough?

      I have this great Rhubarb-Strawberry Jam recipe from Saveur that thickens up quite nicely. despite that both are very low in pectin.

      1. re: Sharoneonta

        Thanks! I will check that book out for sure.

        1. re: buttertart

          one of the places. Our grandmothers had to make their own pectin before Certo came along.

          1. re: sunshine842

            No kiddin'. And with enough sugar a lot of fruits will jell without it.

            1. re: buttertart

              things with currants (both black and red) especially will set up on their own, as they are *very* high in pectin.

          2. re: buttertart

            I've used this book to make boysenberry, apricot, and plum jam, all without pectin. I usually lower the amount of sugar she calls for, too.

            1. re: buttertart

              Thanks for the tip, I just ordered this book from Amazon as it looks fantastic!

              1. All traditional jam neeeds pectin to set up. Unless you have an apple orchard out back and can make your own buying it probably cheaper.

                Some handmade jams don't use pectin but they are very labor intensive and require constant stirring etc. June Taylor doesn't use pectin in her delicous jams...

                8 Replies
                1. re: JudiAU

                  I make jam all the time without pectin (aside from the pectin naturally occurring in the fruit) and don't consider it particularly labor intensive. I learned from Valerie at Valerie Confections and none of the jams she sells commercially use pectin either.

                  1. re: mollyomormon

                    Isn't part of the point of using pectin that it allows you to cut down on sugar? Why bother?

                    1. re: buttertart

                      Actually, it's my understanding that conventional packaged pectin requires more sugar in order for the reaction between the sugar and the pectin to occur. You can obviously purchase the low sugar pectin, but since I like a soft gel, I haven't found even that necessary. All the jams I make are low sugar.

                      1. re: mollyomormon

                        I've been toying with the idea of working with the apple pectins...and from what I've seen, the quantity of sugar is roughly the same whether you're using commercial or homemade pectin.

                        The pectin is to make it set up. The sugar is to make it good. ;)

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          What I was pointing out is that the sugar is necessary (and in precise amounts) in order to create the reaction with the commercial pectin that causes the gel to set. This is per Zeidrich's book that I referenced, but if you have more familiarity with the chemistry behind it, then I'd love to know more. She writes: "Most important, if the pectin is the conventional kind ... which produces a gel through a reaction with sugar, you must use the amount of sugar specified or you will likely end up with an over- or undergelled jam or jelly. Recipes that come with conventional pectin require high proportions of sugar -- at least one pound for each pound of fruit, and usually quite a bit more."

                          I have definitely made low-sugar, commercial pectin free jams that set very well and are delicious. It's also cheaper than buying pectin, so I can't find any reason to start adding it (and the additives that come along with it) to my jams!

                          1. re: mollyomormon

                            I'm afraid you've taken a rather flip, off-the-cuff remark and interpreted it as some sort of chemical analysis worthy of a second thought.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              No, I was more addressing your comment that the amount of sugar required is the same whether you're using commercial pectin or not, which hasn't been my experience, but I'm here to learn so that's why I was asking!

                              1. re: mollyomormon

                                I was just going by the amount of pectin and sugar in the various recipes I'd looked at online.

                                I've never used homemade pectin, so can't make a real-life comparison.

                2. I've never used pectin. Try the current Ball cookbook and the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook.

                  1. Commercial pectin is made of pectin extracted from apples and citrus with citric acid added. Commercial low/no sugar pectin is made from the same ingredients as above with the addition of dextrose and calcium to trigger jelling when using lower amounts of sugar or no sugar/sweetener. With the exception of dextrose and calcium in the low/no sugar pectin, commercial pectin is virtually the same product as homemade pectin except that it's in a convenient packet without the labor and space-eating storage problems of home made pectin. I've never understood the added commercial pectin/low-no sugar pectin/no pectin/homemade pectin debate. As far as I can tell, pectin is pectin and it is necessary in some form in order to make jams and jellies. If you're adding lemon/lime/whatever citrus juice, apple juice and/or bags of the seeds to your "no pectin whatsoever" jams, you are adding pectin. The same pectin that's in commercial or home made pectin. Personally I use all types of the above pectins (except home made-too much trouble) depending on the jam or jelly I'm making and I'm a huge fan of the low/no sugar pectins because they require much less sugar in any form, have a much shorter cooking time and result in a fruitier, fresher tasting product with a higher nutritive value (for what that's worth in a condiment). I've found no difference in the shelf life of low pectin products and regular/home made pectin products.

                    What pectin does is it forms chains and in the presence of acid (sour/under ripe fruit or lemon juice, ie. citric acid) loses some of it's ability to attract water. Once this happens the water is attracted to sugar and the pectin is forced into a three dimensional net-like structure that captures and holds the combined sugar and water. This, in essence, creates the jell.

                    Pectin is getting expensive. But I'm not sure if it's any more expensive than making homemade pectin once you factor in the cost of the ingredients, jars, lids, energy, labor, and storage space that homemade pectin requires. It is basically a canning project in itself. That's a call you will have to make for yourself. I buy commercial pectin (both kinds) in bulk from my local Mennonite-run bulk store at considerable savings over the little packages.

                    1. I really like Linda Ziedrich's Joy of Jams, Jellies and Preserves. No commercial pectin needed.