Jam Maker’s Tip: Save Lemon Seeds for Homemade Pectin

updated May 2, 2019
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I rarely use commercial pectin in my jams, relying instead on the natural pectin of the fruit (plus I like a looser set). But there are times when a little boost is helpful if I’m preserving low-pectin fruits, making a larger batch, or wanting to reduce cooking time. That’s when I reach for my perpetual stash of lemon seeds.

Lemons and other citrus fruits are rich in pectin, which thickens jams. I use a lot of lemon zest, peels, and juice in my kitchen so whenever I have leftover seeds, I save them in a container in the freezer. They last forever and can be pulled out when needed. Of course, you can also use fresh lemon seeds, too.

To get a real sense of the pectin, place a tablespoon or so of seeds in a small dish of water overnight — by the next day they will have formed a gel. You can strain out the excess water and add this gel to your preserving pot. Or, you can simply tie some lemon seeds in a piece of cheesecloth and simmer that with your jam. The flavor is pretty neutral so I use this method with all manner of fruit preserves.

How about you? Do you use homemade pectin from lemons, apples, or other fruit?