Pectin is a natural substance, a form of complex carbohydrate, which is found in the cell walls and in between the cell walls of plants. The presence of this complex carbohydrate ensures the flow of water between cells and helps fruits to stay firm and crisp. Pectin, derived from fruits and vegetables, is commonly used as a culinary ingredient. Available in both powdered and liquid from, the most common use of pectin is to act as a thickening agent for jams and jellies.
Pectin was first discovered in 1825 by Henri Bracannot, French pharmacist and chemist. It was later after the discovery that commercial production of pectin began by extracting it from citrus fruits.
Pectin is usually found in fruits and vegetables like plums, apples, carrots, guavas, oranges, apricots, grapefruits and limes. Besides, soft and mushy fruits like grapes, cherries and strawberries also contain small amounts of pectin.
Apple pomace, dried lemon peel and sugar beet pomace are often used commercially for the production of Pectin.
Ingredients and Preparation
Although Pectin is commercially available in stores, it can be easily made at home. Homemade pectin is easy to make and also saves on the money. For making pectin at home, the ingredients which are needed are apples, lemon juice and water. To make this compound, apples are cut into large pieces and washed with cold water. The peel of the fruits is retained as it contains large amount of pectin. Once rinsed, the apple pieces are combined with water and lemon juice in a large pot and boiled for 45 minutes after covering. The mixture is stirred after every fifteen minutes. Once the apples disintegrate and form into a sauce, the mixture is simmered. The sauce is then strained through a colander with cheesecloth fitted in it. The liquid gets collected in the container and the cheesecloth bag is pressed harder for more liquid. The pulp is discarded and the liquid pectin id stored.
Homemade pectin can be stored in freezer in air tight container. It can be used for at least one year.
- Aids digestion – Pectin helps in improving digestion and also provides relief in irritable bowel syndrome and during acid reflux.
- Prevents cancer cell growth – This naturally occurring complex carbohydrate is rich in fiber and thus helps preventing the growth of carcinogenic cells.
- Treating diarrhea – Pectin is found efficient in treatment of constipation. Its regular intake helps in increasing the viscosity and volume of human feces. It is also effective in treating diarrhea.
- Works as demulcent – Pectin’s property to soothe the layer over swelled mucous membrane and providing relief from minor pain during swelling makes it useful for being used in throat lozenges.
- Used in medical adhesive – Pectin helps in early treatment of wounds and is often used as a component in medical adhesives.
- Natural nausea remedy – The carbohydrate is often used as an effective natural remedy for treating nausea.
- Acts as detoxifier – Pectin’s ability to remove toxins and heavy metals from the body makes it an effective detoxifier.
- Lowers cholesterol level – Pectin is quite effective in controlling blood pressure and is often recommended to people suffering from high blood pressure.
Culinary Use of Pectin
- Gelling agent – Pectin is commonly used as gelling agent. It is often added as an ingredient for making jams, jellies and marmalades.
- Filling – Pectin is also used as a filling for toffees, sweets and various medicines.
- For milk based drinks – Pectin works as an effective stabilizer and thus is often used in milk based drinks and juices. This property of Pectin makes it useful for cosmetics also.
For making breads – Pectin helps in building moisture in the bread and is thus used for bread making.
- Used as a laxative – Pectin, due to its constipation relieving property, is commonly used in laxatives.
- Used as glue on cigar wrapping paper – The binding ability of Pectin makes it useful as glue for torn cigar wrapping paper.
The pectin, used for culinary purposes, is mainly divided in two categories; High Methoxyl Pectin and Low Methoxyl Pectin. The High Methoxyl Pectin is mainly used for making jams and jellies. This pectin requires sugar presence and a specific acidity level. The acid in the base solution affects the setting time of Pectin. High Methoxyl Pectins are further classified into rapid set and slow set pectin. Rapid setting is used for jellies which have chunks of fruits present. Slow set is used for clear jellies like grape jelly or apricot jelly.
Low Methoxyl Pectin needs calcium for activating the gelling process. This type is commonly used for production of low or no sugar jellies.