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.
Berry Jam With Fruit Pectin
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.
How to Test Fruit Juices for Natural Pectin
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.