All About Pectin

Cook, Ingredient Spotlight

All About Pectin

If you’re preserving any of the beautiful fruits from your farmers’ market this summer (and we hope you are!) you may have come across some recipes calling for pectin. Though it’s not essential to all preserving, pectin helps jams and jellies jell, so you achieve the exact consistency you want — without adding loads of sugar. With pectin, healthy, homemade jams will taste more like the fruits you love (like this Honeyed Plum-Cardamom Jelly; scroll down for the recipe).

 

Keep reading for everything you need to know about pectin, plus tips and recipes to get you started.

 

What It Is

Pectin is a natural carbohydrate in the skin and seeds of fruits, and when combined with sugar and acid, it causes liquids to jell. Different fruits have different levels of pectin, as do fruits of different ripeness — the pectin diminishes as the fruit matures. Apples and citrus are especially high in pectin, so they’re often used as the base for packaged pectins.

 

You can make pectin yourself (see our recipe at the bottom of this post) or you can use a packaged version. We’re big fans of Pomona’s Universal Pectin, and so are our customers! Pomona’s Pectin is extracted from the dried peel of lemons, limes and oranges after the fruits have been juiced and the oil has been pressed out of the peel. It’s unlike other pectin powders because it can make jams and preserves jell with low amounts of any sweetener, so you taste even more of the real fruit. Make sure any pectin you use is a natural product made from real fruit without any added sweeteners or preservatives.

 

How It Works

Pomona's Universal Pectin

You don’t have to use packaged pectin to make jams, jellies or preserves, as many recipes make use of the pectin that’s naturally present in the fruits. But in its powdered form pectin helps shorten the cooking time, so the resulting preserves have a fresher fruit flavor and ideal texture. Most fruits don’t contain enough natural pectin to make jelly on their own, so added pectin is required. How much pectin and sugar you need depends on the natural pectin content of the fruit you’re using.

 

All fruit preserves can be tested during cooking to make sure they will jell properly once cooled. To test them, place 2 or 3 small plates in the freezer. Cook the fruit mixture as directed in the recipe, then remove from the heat. Put a teaspoon of the mixture on a chilled plate and return it to the freezer for 2 minutes. The mixture is ready if it wrinkles when nudged gently with a finger. If it doesn’t, cook for 1-2 minutes longer, remove from the heat, and test again on a chilled plate.

 

Using Pectin

Follow these six simple steps to make jams, jellies and marmalades with Pomona’s Pectin. The pectin package comes with calcium powder, which is critical to making the preserves jell without much added sweetener.

  1. Wash and rinse jars; let stand in hot water. Bring lids and rings to boil; turn down heat; let stand in hot water.
  2. Prepare fruit or juice. Measure fruit or juice into pan with lemon or lime juice (if called for in recipe).
  3. Add proper amount of calcium water (included in Pomona’s Pectin package) from jar into pan; stir well.
  4. Measure sugar or room temperature honey into separate bowl. Thoroughly mix proper amount of pectin powder into honey or sugar.
  5. Bring fruit juice to a boil. Add pectin-sweetener. Stir vigorously 1-2 minutes to dissolve pectin while mixture returns to full boil. Remove from heat.
  6. Fill jars to 1/4-inch of top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids. Put filled jars ion boiling water to cover. Boil 10 minutes (add 1 minute more for every 1,000 feet above sea level). Remove from water. Let jars cool. Check seals; lids should be sucked down. Eat within 1 year. Lasts 3 weeks once opened.

 

Find more tips for using pectin from Pomona’s Universal Pectin.

 

Recipes

 

Here are a few delicious, creative recipes to get you started using pectin, all from the new book Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin.

 

Maple-Vanilla-Peach Jam

 

If I were to eat any jam by the spoonful (which I admit to doing, on occasion), this would be the one. I also love a big dollop of it on top of vanilla ice cream. It’s great in baked goods, too—as a filling for cookie bars, or even turnovers. The deep intensity of maple and vanilla, combined with the lusciousness of fresh peaches, is just heavenly.

 

Before You Begin: Prepare calcium water.  To do this, combine 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with 1/2 cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well.  Extra calcium water may be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

 

Yield: 4 to 5 half-pint (8-ounce) jars

 

3 1/4 pounds fully ripe peaches

1 vanilla bean

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 teaspoons calcium water

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

3 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder

 

Wash your jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring canner to a rolling boil, and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. (Add 1 extra minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.) Reduce heat and allow jars to remain in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan, heat to a low simmer, and hold until ready to use.

 

Peel and remove pits from peaches, and then mash the peaches in a large bowl.

 

Measure 4 cups of the mashed peaches (saving any extra for another use), and pour the measured amount into a saucepan. Using a paring knife, slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla seeds and the bean pod itself to the fruit, along with the lemon juice and calcium water. Mix well.

 

In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup and pectin powder. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

 

Bring fruit to a full boil over high heat. Slowly add pectin–maple syrup mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve pectin while the jam comes back up to a boil. Once the jam returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat. Using tongs, carefully remove the vanilla bean pod from the jam and discard.

 

Chocolate-Cherry Preserves

 

Chocolate-Cherry PreservesChocolate and cherries were made for each other, and this preserve is proof. The combination of the two is insanely decadent. Be sure to use high-quality cocoa powder that is unsweetened and has no other added ingredients. Spoon this preserve on top of cheesecake for a stunning—and absolutely heavenly—dessert.

 

Before You Begin: Prepare calcium water.  To do this, combine 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with 1/2 cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well.  Extra calcium water may be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

 

Yield: 4 to 5 half-pint (8-ounce) jars

 

2 1/2 pounds (1.1 kg) sweet cherries
1∕3 cup (29 g) sifted, unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1/4 teaspoon (0.6 g) cinnamon
1∕8 teaspoon (0.25 g) cayenne pepper
1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice
3 teaspoons (15 ml) calcium water
1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 g) Pomona’s pectin powder

 

Wash your jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring canner to a rolling boil, and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. (Add 1 extra minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.) Reduce heat and allow jars to remain in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan, heat to a low simmer, and hold until ready to use.

 

Rinse cherries, remove stems, and then slice in half and remove pits.

 

Combine cherry halves with cocoa powder and the 1/2 cup (120 ml) of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

 

Measure 4 cups (946 ml) of the cooked mixture (saving any extra for another use), and return the measured quantity to the saucepan. Add cinnamon, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and calcium water. Mix well.

 

In a separate bowl, combine sugar and pectin powder. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

 

Bring cherry mixture back to a full boil over high heat. Slowly add pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve pectin while the preserves come back up to a boil. Once the mixture returns to a full boil, remove the pan from the heat.

 

Honeyed Plum-Cardamom Jelly

 

If you’re lucky enough to have a plum tree (or have a friend who does!), and you have access to a good quantity of fresh plums in season, give this gorgeous, deep-purple jelly a try! Laced with the subtle, quietly complex flavor of cardamom, this jelly is a sophisticated accompaniment to scones at breakfast or afternoon tea.

 

Before You Begin: Prepare calcium water.  To do this, combine 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with 1/2 cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well.  Extra calcium water may be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

 

Yield: 4 to 5 half-pint (8-ounce) jars

 

4 pounds (1.8 kg) ripe, sweet plums

11/4 cups (296 ml) water

11/2 teaspoons (3.5 g) ground cardamom

1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice

5 teaspoons (24.6 ml) calcium water

1 cup (340 g) honey

5 teaspoons (15 g) Pomona’s pectin powder

 

Wash your jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring canner to a rolling boil, and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. (Add 1 extra minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.) Reduce heat and allow jars to remain in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan, heat to a low simmer, and hold until ready to use.

 

Rinse, remove pits, and quarter plums, and then combine in a saucepan with the 11/4 cups (296 ml) of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 7 to 15 minutes, or until fruit is soft, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and mash plums.

 

Transfer mashed fruit to a damp jelly bag or layered cheesecloth, suspend over a bowl, and allow juice to drip until dripping stops—at least 2 hours. Discard fruit pulp or save for another use.

 

Prepare your jars, lids, and bands; heat up your canner; and sterilize your jars.

 

Measure 4 cups (946 ml) of the fruit juice and combine in a saucepan with cardamom, lemon juice, and calcium water.

 

In a separate bowl, combine honey and pectin powder. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

 

Bring fruit juice to a full boil over high heat, and then slowly add pectin-honey mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve pectin while the jelly comes back up to a boil. Once the jelly returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat.

 

To Can Your Preserves: Remove jars from canner and ladle jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, put on lids and screw bands, and tighten to fingertip tight. Lower filled jars into canner, ensuring jars are not touching each other and are covered with at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Place lid on canner, return to a rolling boil, and process for 10 minutes. (Add 1 extra minute of processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level). Turn off heat and allow canner to sit untouched for 5 minutes, then remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Confirm that jars have sealed, then store properly.

 

Homemade Apple Pectin

 

You can make your own pectin from slightly underripe apples. It’s time-consuming, but you can freeze or preserve it in jars to have on hand for later use. Look for small, underripe apples, which have higher pectin levels. Even with homemade pectin you’ll need to add a lot of sugar to your jelly — there’s no way around it. In general, 4 cups (32 fl .oz./1 l.) homemade pectin is equal to about 3 fl. oz./ (90 ml.) packaged pectin.

 

8 lb. (4 kg.) underripe apples, such as Granny Smith or Pink Lady

 

Cut the apples lengthwise into slices about 1/2 inch (12 mm.) thick, retaining the seeds and cores. Place the apple slices in a pot and add 4 qt. (4 l.) water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes.

 

Suspend a jelly bag over a deep nonreactive bowl and pour the apple mixture into the bag. Let the bag stand overnight. Do not squeeze the bag, or the pectin will be cloudy. The pectin should be slightly thick and slimy to the touch.

 

Transfer the pectin to airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months. To keep the pectin for a longer period of time, warm it over medium heat, then ladle it into 4 hot, sterilized 1-pint (16-fl. oz./500-ml.) jars and process and store. Makes 8 cups (64 fl. oz./2 l.).

4 comments about “All About Pectin

  1. All About Pectin | Williams-Sonoma Taste | Brazos River Provisions

  2. Karen

    Ok so…don’t have the special pectin powder promoted here…I’ve got Ball liquid and powdered pectin…any changes to the recipes? I’ve never prepped a “calcium water” and don’t particularly care to add another step to my canning process…soooooooooo conversion for using regular old Ball powdered pectin?

    Reply
  3. Barbara

    Can I use homemade pectin air pomonas calcium water and maintain lower sugar amounts?

    Reply
  4. Difference between: gelatin and pectin | ErinLanders.com

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