How to: make pectin

Pectin causes jams and jellies to gel. It is a natural occurring substance found in berries, apples and other fruit. The polysaccharide gives the jam its consistency. These days, you can find packeted, commercial pectin, however, it is quite expensive and just isn’t the same as the homemade alternative. For a real homemade jam, here’s how to DIY.


1 ½ kg under-ripe Granny Smith Apples (about 7)
4 cups water
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Unusual utensils
Cheesecloth (or jelly bag)
Sanitised jars


1. Wash the apples and place them in a pot
2. Cut the apples into wedges
3. Add water and lemon juice
4. Boil the mixture until it reduces in half (30-45 minutes)
5. Strain mixture through the cheesecloth
6. Boil the juice for another 20 minutes
7. Pour into sanitised jars and seal to store in the refrigerator

Now you are ready to make your own jam - discover a delicious strawberry jam recipe here


To test the strength of the pectin, pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol into a glass and drop in a spoonful of cold pectin. The pectin will coagulate into a jelly-like mass. If it can be pulled out with a fork and forms a heaping glob, it is the right concentration to jell. If it can’t be picked up with a fork, you will need to boil it down and add a touch more lemon juice to increase its concentration.

Alternatively, if you don’t have the time or willpower to make the pectin yourself, you can buy it from most major grocery stores in the baking aisle. You could also use jam setting sugar or jam setter.