Jams and jellies hold a special place in our hearts. Without them, we wouldn’t enjoy the decadent flavors and scents of summer fruits and berries all year long!
To make them, you need a secret ingredient: pectin.
Pectin is a starch that activates its gel-making abilities when mixed with sugar and citric acid.
While some fruits and berries contain enough natural pectin on their own, others don’t, and in this case, you need to include commercially produced pectin to make jams and jellies.
Commercial pectin is sold in two forms: liquid and dry. In this article, we’ll explain how they differ and share the best tips and tricks to use both of them. Let’s “jam”!
The main difference between liquid pectin and powdered pectin is the timing: powdered pectin is added at the beginning of the cooking procedure, whereas liquid pectin is added at the very end.
Powdered pectin should be added first because it has to be rehydrated in the liquid before it can dissolve and spread throughout the fruit.
Liquid pectin is transformed into a gel very quickly. Because of this, you must add it just before the liquid fully boils to get the ideal balance of acidity and sugar.
Pectin is a crucial element in condiments like jams and jellies. Without it, our favorite fruity condiments won’t have the gel-like texture we all love!
In fact, pectin is naturally found in all fruits — the fruit’s skin, seeds, and core all contain it! Some are rich in pectin, while others contain it in very small amounts — and this is when commercial pectin comes into play!
But which fruits are low-pectin and high-pectin?
Low-pectin fruits are no other than our summertime favorites! Those are peaches, rhubarb, cherries, strawberries, pears, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
These fruits have low pectin levels, so the texture of your jam and jelly will turn out watery if you don’t include either liquid or powdered pectin.
The real kicker is that autumn produces high-pectin fruits! Good examples of such fruits are apples, cranberries, and plums. These fall fruits have very high pectin levels, so you don’t need to add commercial pectin to get your desired thick texture.
Powdered pectin comes in two varieties: high methoxyl (HM) and low methoxyl (LM). There are also two types of HM pectin: one that sets quickly and another that sets slowly.
Quick set HM pectin is recommended for jams, whereas slow set is reserved for jellies.
The quick-set pectin is also the preferable choice when making jam at home because it sets quickly, and you can use it right away.
But suppose you want to start selling your homemade jams and jellies professionally. In this case, you might need slow-set HM pectin. Since a slow set takes more time to form a gel, you will have some extra time to finish the jelly or jam and fill the last jar without compromising the texture.
Both sugar and acid are necessary for quick-set and slow-set HM pectin to gel. But what if you want to create jams without sugar? Then you must use another type of pectin, known as LM pectin.
Calcium is required for LM pectin to gel. Because of this, it functions well in low-sugar jams. Overall, if the recipe calls for sugar and acids, use HM pectin, but if you’re creating jam without sugar, then LM pectin should be your choice.
Last but not least, liquid pectin is dry pectin dissolved into a liquid to avoid clumps and lumps (provide a smooth texture) and comes only in one (regular) variety.
|Category||Liquid Pectin||Powdered Pectin|
|Definition||A commercially-made ingredient for making preserves like jams and jellies||A commercially-made ingredient for making preserves like jams and jellies|
|Texture||Liquid form||Powder form|
|Cooking time||Needs more time to dissolve||Needs less time to dissolve|
|Timing||Incorporated right away before the mixture reaches a boil and the sugar is added||Incorporated at the very end after the mixture reaches a boil and the sugar is added.|
|Varieties||High methoxyl, which is further divided into quick-set and low-set, and low-methoxyl (LM)||Only one variety|
As you can see in the nutritional data below, 100g of liquid pectin contains only 11 calories, 2 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of fiber. On the other hand, 100g of powdered pectin is way higher in calories, carbs, and fats — but that doesn’t necessarily make it the less healthy option!
Powdered pectin is super rich in minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, the metal copper, and vitamins A, riboflavin, and folate.
The fact that powdered pectin is a natural source of fiber is its healthiest feature.
As a result, it facilitates the removal of cholesterol and toxins in the digestive system. Pectin supports the body’s natural detoxification processes, aids in controlling how much sugar and cholesterol the body uses, and enhances gut and intestinal health. Similarly to powdered pectin, liquid pectin also includes fiber, but not in the same high concentration.
|Category (100g)||Liquid Pectin||Powdered Pectin|
|Vitamins & Minerals|
Of course there is a difference! All of these techniques involve a combination of sugar, heat, and pectin, but the main difference lies in the way the fruits are used in each type of preserve.
So, now that you know the science behind pectin, it’s time to learn about how you can enjoy your seasonal fruits all year long!
Let’s start with jelly. Jelly is made from fruit juice, often extracted from crushed and cooked fruits. It has the firmest texture with the silkiest mouthfeel.
Jam is made from fruit puree or chops. The jam texture is more runny and spreadable than jelly, with some seeds or skin pieces inside.
Chutney is made without pectin. It derives from the word chatni, an East Indian word that means “highly seasoned.” It uses a combination of fruits — citrus, mango, pears, pineapple, etc. — various spices — cinnamon, like Ceylon or Vietnamese, allspice, mace or nutmeg, cloves, cumin or coriander, and ginger — and apple cider vinegar.
Yet, preserves contain the most fruit of all. They’re made with either chopped fruit pieces or whole fruits. Their consistency can range from runny, like syrup, to thicker, like jams.
Marmalade is made of citrus fruits only. It combines the whole citrus, the interior, pulp, and rinds. Citrus rinds are rich in pectin found in citrus rinds, so marmalade has a thick consistency very akin to jelly.
Compote is produced using fresh or dried fruit and is simmered in sugar to preserve part of the fruit’s original shape. Compote can either be consumed immediately or for up to two weeks.
The substitution of liquid pectin for dry pectin, and vice versa, is strongly discouraged in cookbooks and on websites devoted to jams and preserves.
It’s generally agreed upon that it’s a terrible idea and that the two cannot be used interchangeably. Although there is some truth to that conclusion — we are here to tell you that it’s not entirely correct!
You can absolutely substitute liquid pectin for dry pectin and vice versa if you use the appropriate variety, quantity, and timing.
Substitute powdered pectin for liquid pectin with the regular version only since the other powdered varieties aren’t composed in the same manner as the regular liquid and powdered pectin.
For every 3 oz of liquid pectin, you should use around 2 tsp of powdered pectin. Liquid pectin is added to the very end of the jelly or jam-making process — more particularly after the liquid boils and the sugar has been added.
Powdered pectin is used at the very beginning, so add it first, then wait for the fruit or berry mixture to come to a boil, and finally, add the sugar. Also, make sure to reserve a bit more time for powdered pectin, as it requires more time to turn into a gel. Good luck!
If preserving fruits is your “jam,” you now know how important pectin is to the story.
Some fruits require no pectin since they naturally contain so much of it. In other cases, Mother Nature needs help from store-bought liquid and dry pectin.
What is their difference? Powdered pectin is swirled into the fruit at the beginning, while liquid pectin is added at the very end.
How can you substitute them? Use 2 tbsp per every 3 oz packet of liquid pectin! That’s it! Now go and pick your fruits and berries and surprise your loved ones with heavenly good jam or jelly!