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What is pectin?

Pectin is an essential natural ingredient in preserves, such as jellies and jams. Without pectin, jellies and jams will not gel. Pectin is a type of starch, called a heteropolysaccharide, which occurs naturally in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables and gives them structure. When combined with sugar and acid, it gives jams and jellies a semi-solid texture when they cool. Some fruits, such as apples and quinces, as well as the peel, seeds and membranes of citrus fruits, are naturally very rich in pectin. Commercial pectins are usually made from citrus peels. They are sold in dry powder and liquid form.

What are the different types of pectin ? NH pectin, Pectin for jam, yellow pectin

There are two main types of pectin: high methoxyl (HM) and low methoxyl (LM) pectin. High methoxyl pectin is the most common type and is often labeled "fast setting" or "slow setting". Fast-setting pectin is ideal for thick jams and marmalades, while slow-setting pectin is suitable for clear jellies. Low methoxyl (LM) pectin, which uses calcium instead of sugar to create a set, is ideal for low-sugar or sugar-free preserves. It is often labeled as "light" or "made for low sugar recipes."

The two main types of pectin have several varieties, and each behaves differently. Dry pectin comes in several forms, including regular (or classic) pectin, quick-set and slow-set (high methoxyl) pectin, sugar-free or low-sugar (low methoxyl) pectin, modified citrus pectin (MCP) - which is similar to sugar-free or low-sugar pectin - and instant or freezer jam pectin. The liquid is only available in a regular version and is similar to regular dry pectin, but is pre-dissolved to prevent clumping.

Since different types of pectins behave differently, it is best to use the version indicated in the recipe you are using. If you find that the jam or jelly is too hard or too soft, you can always adjust the quantities accordingly.

Uses of pectin

Fruit pectin

Pectin is used to thicken recipes that include fruits with low pectin content. Some fruits, especially those that are very ripe, contain relatively little pectin. Strawberries and raspberries, for example, crush easily, indicating that they are low in this "glue" that helps build the structure of the fruit. For these fruits, without added pectin, making a well-set jelly or jam may require the addition of a lot of sugar, excessive cooking, or both, resulting in a jam or jelly that tastes less like the fruit.

To find out how much pectin is in the fruit, mix a tablespoon of grain alcohol with a teaspoon of fruit juice. If the mixture becomes firm, it is rich in pectin. If the mixture becomes a loose, gelatinous mass, the pectin content is medium. If it doesn't set at all or forms gel-like flakes, the pectin content is low.

Pectin can also be used in other dishes that require food to gel or thicken and as a fat substitute in some baked goods.