You’ll see that many recipes for jams and preserves contain an ingredient called pectin, but do you know what it is and why it is needed?
Pectin is a starch and is found naturally in fruit and vegetables, giving them their structure. When combined with sugar and acid, and cooked to a high temperature, it forms a gel. Unlike gelatine, which is derived from animals, as pectin is found in fruit it is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Pectin is mostly concentrated in fruit pips, cores and skins, and different fruits have different levels of pectin. High pectin fruits include cooking apples, blackcurrants, plums, oranges, lemons and cranberries. Low pectin fruits include strawberries, blackberries, rhubarb and figs.
As citrus peel has a really high percentage of pectin, when you see natural pectin used in recipes, this will generally be citrus pectin and is what we use in our jams.
If you are making jam at home, you can also make your own pectin rather than buying some. Most homemade pectin recipes use apples, such as this one below:
Apple Pectin Recipe
1.35kg apples (underripe or green apples work best)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1. Wash the apples and cut in quarters
2. Place in a large pot with the water and lemon juice
3. Simmer until tender (30-40mins)
4. Strain through a jelly bag or several layers of cheese cloth
5. Boil the strained liquid to reduce by half (20 mins) stirring occasionally
6. Freeze until required
So why do we use pectin? Adding pectin allows you to cook your jam for a shorter period of time, which means you can achieve a fresher fruit flavour and colour, as well as retaining larger pieces of fruit in your jam. It also gives you a lighter texture compared with cooking your jam for a long time to achieve a set.
How much pectin to use varies by recipe depending on the type of fruit and whether it is a high or low pectin fruit, the set you want to achieve and how long you want to cook your jam for.
Much jam love,