I found myself thinking about this while I made a batch of blueberry/honey jam to sell at the farmer’s market this spring. The recipe is very simple. It’s just blueberries, honey, a bit of lemon juice and Pamona Pectin. What is was wondering was how I would preserve my blueberries without the benefit of the commercial pectin. That led me to do some research on homemade pectin. It turns out it’s very easy to make. You just boil 2 lbs of apples (just the skins and cores are fine) in 4 cups of water for 45 minutes. Drain the juice through a jelly bag and can it. I got this recipe from Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia. It doesn’t say how long to can it but I would guess that 10 minutes in a boiling water bath would do it. You use a cup of this in place of the pectin in any recipe. The apples should be slightly underripe. The pectin in overripe fruit breaks down. I still have some apple in cold storage. I’ll be giving this a try.
So often, I find myself stocking up on something like pectin or rennet when I should be researching the local alternatives. Eventually, everything gets used up. It’s not like people didn’t make jams and bread, alcohol and cheese before the age of plastic and supermarkets. Regional foods are the result of using local ingredients to produce unique flavors and textures. We are all so used to the bland sameness of chainstore food that we have forgotten the thrill of real San Fransisco sourdough or Massachusetts apple vinegar.
I know it possible to make rennet from a calves stomach. Even if I never do that, I could make a substitute from thistle flowers. I’m going to take some time when I prepare food to think about what my grandmother would have used to make the same dish. I will have to set aside a page in preparedness notebook for those recipes. After all. Who wants to face the apocalypse without good jam?