There's just nothing quite like homemade jam. Whether you spread it on toast, serve it with steamin' hot pancakes, or just—as I've been known to do—eat it right off the spoon when nobody's around, this "personal" sweet stuff seems to hang on to a lot more of the "fresh fruit" flavor than the store-bought kind ever does.
However, regardless of how fresh their fruits or berries, most folks have to use packaged pectin to get their jams (or jellies) to "set."
What many spread-makers don't know is that the often unreliable commercial pectin isn't necessary. You can whip up a batch of your own "jam jeller" in no time!
You see, pectin is a natural substance that's found in one degree or another in all fruits. Apples and crab apples contain the richest concentrations of the thickener, though, so apples form the base of our pectin recipe:
Wash, but don't peel, about seven large tart apples. Cut them into pieces and add four cups of water and two tablespoons of lemon juice. Boil the mixture for 40 minutes, then strain it through a diaper or cheesecloth. Finally, boil the juice for another 20 minutes, pour it into sterilized jars, and seal them.
Clean and crush two quarts of ripe berries (you can use a
sieve to remove the seeds). Put four cups of the mashed
fruit Into a pot, add four cups of honey, and mix the
ingredients together well. Then let the sticky liquid stand
for about an hour.
After the sixty minutes are up, stir in one cup of fruit pectin and boil the mixture hard for five minutes (be sure to stir it all the while). Then just remove the jam from the heat, skim the top, and stir the spread until it's cool (about five minutes). Pour the finished spread into sterilized glasses, and seal them with paraffin.
Stir one tablespoon of grain alcohol into one teaspoon of
fruit juice. You can use wood or denatured alcohol,
but—if you do—DON'T TASTE 'EM! Wood
alcohol and denatured alcohol are poisons.
 Juices that are high in natural pectin will form a lot of bulky, gelatinous material.
 Those with an average pectin content will form a few pieces of the jelly-like substance.
 And juices that are low in pectin content will form only small, flaky pieces of sediment.
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