DIY Pectin…and All Things Apple

I am now determined to make my own pectin instead of buying it in the store. So much so that I placed a request on Freecycle asking if anyone would mind me gleaning from their crabapple tree AND I am committed to planting one apple tree (for cider and eating) and one crabapple tree (for pectin) in our yard.

I could explain the process to you, including how to test it and all that, but I have to say, Build An Ark has done such an excellent job of it that you might as well go with their instructions.

The idea is so elegantly simple, I just can’t help being in awe. You take a bunch of apples, cook them in water and get pectin. After straining through cheesecloth, you then can them (the heat of the liquid pectin will seal the jars without any water bath canning) and use 4-6 Tablespoons for each cup of fruit that is being canned.

Best yet, I can take the cooked mashed apples, cores and skins and feed them to the chickens who definitely appreciate them. No waste…none at all!

I’ve already gotten one response through Freecycle from a woman who had a pear tree. Pears aren’t good for making pectin, but Dave’s ears perked up at the thought of some pear cider. We picked up over 66 pounds of pears on Saturday and have the opportunity for 4x that amount if we bring a ladder.

We also found an apple tree owned by a little old lady. She told us we were welcome to the apples and we picked 18 pounds without a ladder.

I’m sure there is at least 80 pounds more that we could get to on that tree with a ladder. I turned those 18 pounds of apples into five quarts of applesauce.

And I’ve begun processing the apples we picked from our tree – first separating out the pretty ones for storage…

I also used some of the thick, yummy applesauce to make applesauce cake…

We and our visiting friends made quick work of the cake, but I managed to send off a couple of pieces to my mom, who said she couldn’t remember having applesauce cake since before my great-grandmother died.

That was an interesting toe-step into history. Apparently my great-grandmother passed away just a couple of months before I was born – one week after my paternal grandfather died.

Friends of ours kindly came over with their antique wine press and we used it to press some fresh apple cider.

First we chopped the apples…

Then we ran them through the food processor…

And finally through the press…

Here comes the cider!

I think I will be very busy for the next few weeks. I made more another 2 quarts of applesauce on Monday and added cherries to the mix this time. Just a few handfuls of cherries turned it pink…

Both applesauce versions are very thick. I would prefer a thinner version, so I’m going to double the amount of water I put in.

On the first version of applesauce, I added one cup of sugar to the mix. That averaged out to about 3 Tablespoons per quart, which added just the right amount of sweetness. The cherry applesauce did not receive any sugar, and you can really tell. So I’ll be sweetening the batches from here on out.

The good news is that, even if the kiddo or hubby don’t like the applesauce (there have been mixed reviews), they love the applesauce cake, so I can always use the applesauce to make the cake and everyone is happy!

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