Notes for February 2018: The northern half of the U.S. (and most of Canada, of course) are under snow. So, the crops to pick are pretty much limited to Florida, Texas, southern California and a few other areas of the Deep South. Citus, for one, is a crop that is usually available now; and in those areas, soon also strawberries and blueberries.Check your area's copy calendar (see this page) and call your local farms for seasonal updates.
We also have a website for both Valentine's Day information, facts and fun and one for St. Patrick's day (including great recipes for corned beef, Irish stew, etc.)
Children's Consignment Sales occur in both the Spring and Fall See our companion website to find a local community or church kid's consignment sale!
Next year, don't miss an Easter Egg Hunt for your children: See our companion website to find a local Easter Egg hunt!
We also have home canning, preserving, drying and freezing directions. You can access recipes and other resources from the drop down menus at the top of the page or the site search. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to write me! It is easy to make your own ice cream, even gelato, or low fat or low sugar ice cream - see this page. Also note, there are many copycat website listing U-pick farms now. They have all copied their information form here and usually do not ever update. Since 2002, I've been updating the information every day but Christmas; so if you see anything wrong, please write me!-->
If you'd like to make the most all-natural jam, jelly, marmalade or preserve that you possibly can, you'll be interested in how to make your own pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring substance (a polyscaccaride) found in berries, apples and other fruit. When heated together with sugar, it causes a thickening that is characteristic of jams and jellies.
Your grandmother probably didn't use commercial pectin. Instead she stood over a hot, boiling pot, stirring and getting splattered by hot jam until she cooked the vitamins out of it and it finally cooked down to a thicker consistency. Or if she was very knowledgeable, she made her own pectin. She made it from apples and while doesn't change the flavor a bit, it helped her thicken the jam faster and allowed her to use less sugar!
If you want to know more about pectin, what it is and how it works, see this page. Otherwise, continue below and we'll see how to make pectin at home.
That is the big question... and difficult to answer. The pectin content of fruit varies so much, even within a season, that almost anything I could tell you about how much of your homemade pectin to use with the fruit you picked or bought would be meaningless. Both would vary considerably.
So, instead, I'll tell you how to figure out the right formula for your own pectin. Here are the questions to answer:
Samples of Commercially Available Pectin
Top left: no-sugar Ball dry pectin
Top right: regular Ball dry pectin
Bottom left: regular SureJell dry pectin
Bottom right: lower sugar SureJell dry pectin
Far right: Certo liquid regular pectin
Pectin is commonly sold in large grocery stores, like Publix and Kroger, housewares sections of stores like local "big box" stores, and online. We have affiliate programs with two suppliers:
(This is my top choice, since you can use no sugar, sugar, honey and/or Stevia (in a prepared form like Truvia, it measures same as sugar; if you use another form, you'll need do your own conversion) - or Splenda, if you prefer, and it will set!)
I still think you should use the no-sugar version (at left), even if you want to add sugar!)
|Low sugar methoxyl pectin (Pomona)
Best for tough sets, like pepper jellies
|MCP - Modified Citrus Pectin
Made with fruit pectin and citric acid
|Freezer jam pectin
||Liquid pectin||low sugar pectin|
|Amazon.com||It is hard to find - but the no-sugar pectin works well with sugar, too|