What the heck is pectin?
Pectin has been a mystery to me as I’ve begun making jams. I’ve seen commercial pectin sold in stores which are sometimes marketed as preservatives and sometimes marketed as agents that help your jams to gel.
After doing some research, I’ve come up with the basics about pectin:
- Pectin is a molecule found in all fruit. In some fruit it occurs in greater quantity than in others.
- Apples, citrus fruit and plums are high in pectin. Soft fruit like strawberries and cherries are low in pectin.
- Pectin requires sugar and acid to activate, allowing jams to thicken.
- Using Natural Pectin: In citrus fruit, pectin is found in large quantities in the rind, the pith and the seeds. To create natural pectin you can put the seeds and pith into cheesecloth which will allow the natural pectin to be released into the jam.
- Using Commercial Pectin: Commercial pectin is extracted from the concentrated solids left over after pressing the juice from apples. Commercial pectin should be used sparingly because an overly stiff texture and a powdery flavor
- Lots of artisanal jam makers prefer not to use commercial pectin. They would rather understand the fruit and use all parts of it well, to create the most natural jams, jellies and marmalades possible. However, for beginner jam-makers, commercial pectin can be a useful tool. It can eliminate some frustration when jams refuse to gel properly.
When using commercial pectin, it is best to integrate it well into the sugar, to prevent it from clumping.