If you’re interested in making your own jam or jelly, fruits high in pectin are the best ones to use. The 10 fruits mentioned here have the highest pectin levels around. If you’re keen to start jam making, read on!
These bittersweet beauties are incredibly tart if you try to eat them raw. That said, their flesh and skins contain some of the highest pectin levels of any fruits. Best of all, you can actually use them to make homemade pectin to use with other preserves.
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Just like their wild crabapple cousins, apples are incredibly high in pectin. In fact, most of the pectin actually resides in their skins. If you want to make apple butter or jelly, however, you’ll still need to add sugar. Despite apples’ high acid levels, the sugar helps to act as an additional preservation agent.
If you guessed that pears are also high in pectin, have a gold star or a cookie. Since they’re related to apples, they also have higher-than-average pectin levels. Pears break down quite a bit when cooked, however. Mix pears with other fruits if you want to make a jam or spread out of them to counteract their mushiness. Alternatively, just use their skins to create pectin for other recipes.
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Did you know that marmalade was originally made from quinces? It’s true! Citrus fruits were originally so rare and precious in the UK that people made marmalade out of quince flesh and peel. It’s so high in pectin that they just needed to add sugar and boil it all down. That created the bittersweet toast spread so many people know and love.
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The pectin you get from citrus fruits is a bit different from those in the apple family. This is because the pectin in them resides in the seeds, and the white pith on the underside of their skins. Boil this down to create a citrus-flavored pectin to use with other preserves. In fact, try it to create complimentary flavors like lemon-blueberry jam, or orange-cranberry jelly.
Additional Reading: 33 Fruits that are Considered Citrus
Cherry pectin resides in the fruits’ flesh, rather than the skins or pits. Furthermore, sour cherries have higher pectin levels than sweet ones! Although both are great for jams and jellies, you’ll need to add a bit of extra pectin (and sugar) when using either of these varieties.
Further Reading: Bitter Fruits List: 7 Fruits That Are Bitter
Concord grapes have the highest pectin levels of any grapes out there. That said, regardless of the type of grape you’re using, they have enough natural pectin to be ideal in jelly. You shouldn’t have to add any extras when preserving them: just sugar and a bit of acid (like in lemon juice).
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Just like grapes, plums have a high amount of natural pectin. You just need to add some sugar and acid to activate it during the jam-making process. The exception to this rule is the Italian plum. That variety has low pectin, so you’ll have to add more of it for safe, healthy preserves.
Gooseberries have some of the highest pectin levels of any other berry. Furthermore, they’re one of the only berry varieties that don’t require extra pectin when you’re making jam out of them. Try this super-easy, quick gooseberry jam recipe, which only requires gooseberries and sugar!
Further Reading: 75 Fruits that are Considered Berries
Tomato fruits are high in pectin as well, but there’s a tricky bit to them. The enzyme that causes tomatoes to ripen actually decreases their pectin levels. This enzyme also degrades when exposed to heat. As a result, if you want to activate tomatoes’ pectin, you’ll need to add some carrots to the mix. They have an enzyme that counteracts the one that degrades!
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Make sure to do proper research to determine the pectin and sugar levels you need before you make homemade jam or jelly. Try to get your hands on one of the Ball brand books on preserving. They have everything you need to know about pectin and sugar, as well as other safe preservation techniques.