What is pectine

and why had it been demonized by the average consumer

Pectin is a structural heteropolysaccharide found in all plants, and helps maintain the structure of every plant cell. In the EU list of food additives we find it with the code E440 and in the food industry it is used as a thickening agent, gelatinizer and emulsifier. Although it has been “demonized” by the average consumer because of its classification as a “Food Additive” the truth is very different.

Where does pectin come from?

The primary source of pectin is by-products from the processing and production of juices, especially citrus. Increased demand for this product, especially from the pharmaceutical industry, has pushed its extraction from cocoa processing 1, fruit products 2 and even from the production of products tomato. It is extracted in various ways depending on the source and then processed into a powder.

Commercial form

Pectin is marketed as a pale yellow powder as such or together with sugar, which is described as sugar for jam. In the research we did ,on the categories and the form in which it is sold, pectin as a substance is divided into two categories with different properties each, depending on the degree of esterification

  • Low Methoxyl -LM
  • High Methoxyl – HM

As a commercial form, pectin is classified according to two criteria:

  • Pectin grade, ie the parts of sugars required to produce a commonly accepted degree of coagulation from a part of pectin, at a specified pH (acidic)
  • The setting speed

Usage in kitchen

Pectin is widely used as a coagulant as it has the property of binding water molecules in solid form and creating a kind of gel. It is also used by the juice industry and by winemakers to clarify juices and wine while to a lesser extent it is used as an emulsifier.

For its use as a coagulant, two main factors are required. The pH should be acidic (below 7) and there should be some dehydrating agent. In the preparation of jam, for example, sugar is used as a dehydrating agent and lemon juice or citric acid as an acidifying agent.

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