If you fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie and enjoy spending time in the kitchen, you’ve probably heard of pectin before.
In this article, we are going to break down what pectin is and if it’s okay for vegans to consume it. Long story short, it’s completely vegan.
What Is Pectin?
Pectin is a type of starch known as a heteropolysaccharide. This starch is found in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, plums, and certain citrus fruits.
Pectin helps to give the fruit structure by binding the cells together. Over time, the pectin is broken down by enzymes in the fruit as it ripens which causes the fruit to become softer.
Types Of Pectin
Pectin can be split into two main types:
- High methoxyl (HM)
- Low methoxyl (LM)
High methoxyl pectins are able to form gels when combined with sugar and acid. A large amount of sugar needs to be added to form a gel and the pectin can be very sensitive to acidity. This type of pectin comes in a ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ setting variety.
Low methoxyl pectin, on the other hand, uses calcium instead of sugar to help things set. As a result, it is often used for no- or low-sugar recipes. This form of pectin can be used in either hot or cold waters and still form a gel-like consistency.
What Is It Used For?
High methoxyl pectin is mainly used when in canning applications and when making chunky jams or marmalades. This is the most commonly used form of pectin and it is often added to jam sugars to make the cooking process a lot easier.
Low methoxyl pectin is used for recipes that contain zero sugar or low-sugar levels, such as sugar-free jams and jellies. As it is activated by the use of calcium, it is also often seen in protein drinks and yogurt drinks. Apart from helping recipes set, pectin is also useful for making the mixture thicker.
For example, fruits with naturally low pectin levels such as raspberries and blackberries need a little help when it comes to making a jam or jelly.
It is easy to spot a fruit with low levels of pectin, as it will be very delicate. As pectin is used to help keep the cell structure of the fruit or vegetable, those that squash easily have a weak structure and little pectin.
Making a raspberry jam without adding some pectin to the mixture may leave you leaning over the hot stove for hours without getting to the end result.
If the jam does thicken, it may not set properly which would just be a huge waste of time. Avoid adding extra sugar to the mixture where possible as the end result will taste more like a bowl full of sugar rather than the lovely delicious fruit you’ve picked.
Is Pectin Vegan?
Yes, pectin is vegan. As the starch occurs naturally in plants, it is completely plant-based and 100% safe for vegans to consume.
Typically, the pectin sold in grocery stores is made from apple pulp and citrus fruit skins. This can be sold in either a powdered or liquid form.
Can You Make Pectin Yourself?
Good news, you can make pectin yourself! In stores, pectin often tends to be on the more expensive side so making it yourself is a great way to cut down costs. In order to do this, you’ll just need some apples and water.
Apples are naturally very high in pectin, so they are the perfect fruit to make this liquid version of the thickening agent.
Simply boil apples, including cores and peels until mushy before straining the liquid through a jelly bag or cheesecloth. The liquid that makes it through these materials is your liquid apple pectin. Once you’re finished, add the pectin to any of your jelly or jam recipes for delicious and inexpensive results.
With the food landscape changing so often, it can be confusing to keep up with the terms and names of individual ingredients, especially when you’re vegan.
Pectin is a naturally derived starch that helps to set things like jellies and jams, as it’s plant-based it is completely vegan.