Friday, August 05, 2011

Your questions answered about pectin

Educate me, please .. .. .. .. what is the function of pectin in jam and jelly recipes? Is it for flavor, texture, thickness, preserving? Thanks ~ Chris

Pectin is what makes jams and jellies gel or "set up".  It's soluble fiber.  Fruits high in pectin are citrus rinds and apples.  I save all my used citrus rinds in the freezer to use again later for jam and jelly making.  I have a zip lock bag in the door, and after I juice a lemon for something, or have a wedge in a beverage, I just throw the rind in that bag.  Also, be sure to save apple cores and peels, which could also be used to make pectin.

Here's how...

Pectin Stock from Citrus

One-half pound peel
1 pint water
4 tablespoons lemon juice.

Cut or grate the yellow from peel for a less pronounced lemon flavor. Pass the peel through a food chopper. Weigh, add lemon juice, mix, allow to stand 1 hour. Add 1 pints water. Let stand 1 hour. Boil gently 10 minutes. Cover, let cool, place in flannel jelly bag and allow to drain. Press to remove juice. Drain juice through a clean bag.

To give the pectin test, pour 1 teaspoonful of jelly stock into a clean cup. Pour into cup a teaspoon of isopropyl alcohol. Gently shake. Pour into a spoon. If the pectin shows a solid clot, your pectin is rich enough for jam and jelly making. (don't drink this - it's poison)  If this mass can be pulled out with a fork and it forms a heaping gob on the tines, it is concentrated enough to jell perfectly. If it can be picked up by the fork, but mostly hangs from it, then it will jell loosely. If it cannot be picked up by the fork in mostly one mass, then the concentration is too weak for it to jell. In this latter case, you just have to boil it down to increase the concentration of the pectin. Note: the alcohol test doesn't work right if the pectin is hot. 
To use in a recipe - use one measure of sugar to one measure of pectin stock. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, you'd use 1 cup of this pectin stock.  This can be stored in the freezer or canned.

Here's a great blog post I found on the subject from a foraging website. 

Happy canning!


Jo said...

Thanks for the post. I had made the pectin previously but when I made my jam it was a loose set. You just explained why it did not work. I used 2 cups sugar and one cup of pectin.
Thank you for the clarification.

stephq said...

Thats a great idea about freezing rinds and using them later, thanks

Vivienne said...

Thanks for the link. The pectin test is interesting - it is a classic separation technique used in preparative chemistry.

Do you use the 70% concentration of isopropyl alcohol? There is also a 90% for sale. It could make a difference (more likely that the weaker wouldn't work if there is a difference).

Mom said...

Good question -

says 70% is fine.

Kitchen Bliss! said...

Hi! I just thought of you today because I had my first canning experience - michigan blueberry jam! It all went without a hitch, it's cooling on the counter and I look forward to the end product. Hoping to do more canning soon and check out some of your favorites.