Saturday, May 21, 2022

Using pectin in cooking

Pectin, a plant-based polysaccharide, mostly in the skin and core of raw fruit, gelatinizes jelly and jam, thickens sauces and gives low-sugar options when making homemade fruit-based dishes. It functions as the structural "cement" that helps hold cell walls together. It's used to gel foods like fruit preserves - jams and jellies - and gummy candy.

High-pectin fruits, such as quince, apples, plums, blackberries, crabapples and red currants, have enough naturally occurring pectin to act as a preservative and thickener. Cores and seeds are high in pectin and are often included in the recipe for preparing fruit or juice spreads.

In solution, pectin has the ability to form a mesh that traps liquid, sets as it cools, and, in the case of jam, cradles suspended pieces of fruit. Pectin thickens soups and sauces without starch and acts as a stabilizer, acid can be added to milk-based sauces and soups without curdling them.

Acid helps extract pectin from fruit during gentle simmering and helps the gelling process, which will not take place unless the mixture is fairly acidic.

Sugar must be present in the right proportion with acid and pectin in order to form the gel. It is the preservative for the product, thereby preventing the growth of microorganisms. Sugar enhances the strength of the gel by attracting some of the water away from the pectin. In the absence of sufficient water, pectin molecules are more likely to unite with each other.

Pectin is also added to laxatives and throat lozenges to bolster their fiber. And it’s the glue used to hold the tobacco leaves in cigars.
Using pectin in cooking

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