Making Jam: All About Pectin

What is pectin?
Jam is made from fruit, sugar, pectin and acid. Pectin is what creates the jam consistency. Some fruits are naturally high in pectin; others are lower in pectin and need to be combined with a high acid fruit, or adding commercial pectin to create a firm jam or jelly. Commercial pectin is made from apples or citrus, and is available in powdered and liquid forms.

What fruits are high in natural pectin?
Just-ripe fruit has a higher natural pectin content than under-ripe or over-ripe fruit. High pectin fruits include apples, blackcurrants, citrus, crab apples, cranberries, plums, grapes, pomegranates, redcurrants and quinces.

What fruits are low in natural pectin?
Under-ripe or over-ripe fruit are lower in pectin and will not gel properly. Low pectin fruit will need added (commercial) pectin to create the jam consistency or needs to be combined with high pectin fruit (i.e. use ¾ ripe fruit and ¼ under-ripe fruit in your jam) or you can add extra lemon juice to help thicken the jam by boiling the jam auntil set. Low pectin fruits include apricots, blueberries, cherries, kiwifruit, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapple, raspberries and strawberries.

What are the benefits of using commercial pectin?
Commercial pectin can be used for all types of fruit, has a lower cooking period (thus higher yield) and sets perfectly every time – no need to check for the gel stage! They are available in traditional (full-sugar) and low/no-sugar varieties, in powdered and liquid forms.

   Traditional powdered pectin requires a certain amount of sugar to create the jam texture; low sugar pectin requires a much lower sugar quantity (or no sugar at all) that you can adjust to your preference. As a result, jams made using the low sugar pectin will have a fruitier flavour than traditional jams.
   Remember to follow the pectin packet instructions and use the correct type of pectin when jam-making - powdered pectin is added into a recipe differently to liquid pectin. Powdered pectin is added to cooked fruit puree, brought to a high boil (to activate the pectin) and then sugar is added and the jam is boiled hard for 1 minute before bottling. Liquid pectin (which is pre-activated) is added after the 1 minute of hard boiling the fruit/sugar mixture, and is not heated before bottling.
In our recipes, “powdered pectin” refers to “classic/traditional pectin”, which is available in many different brands. As a general guide, we have included the types of pectin below. Always refer to the pectin packaging for fruit/pectin quantities for successful jam-making.

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