When calculating new recipes with HM pectins, the proportions are 53% sugar, 2% pectin, and 45% fruit or juice. These proportions are based on batch weight. The idea is to give you a starting point (before cooking) of around 59 brix which would then evaporate (during cooking) to an end result of around 65 brix (65% of total batch weight is soluble solids). For most fruits, the pH should be in the 2.9 to 3.3 range when 2% Pacific Pectin Mix is used; however, if the fruit or juice being used is particularly acidic or basic to begin with, it will change your final pH.
Fully hydrating HM pectins is necessary to ensure proper gel strength. Pectin is hydrated when it is fully dissolved into a liquid. In order to fully hydrate the pectin, it must be added to a solution that is less than 25 brix. If you attempt to hydrate the pectin in solutions greater than 25 brix, the pectin may partially hydrate, lose gel strength, or possibly not set at all. Therefore, always add your pectin to the boiling fruit mixture before the addition of sugar. It is also a good practice to add the sugar in two parts so the overall temperature does not drop too low, which could cause presetting.
This section should give you a better understanding of how both brix and pH chemically affect the pectins ability to set.
As the brix reaches a level of 59 or more, the pectin is now in an environment where the lowered moisture content starts pulling the pectin out of the solution. This causes the pectin to hold onto the solution, or ‘set.’ You do not see the pectin particles because the pectin is still hydrated.
When there is sufficient acid in the solution, the acid reacts with the pectin to create a web effect of molecules. This web effect holds the solution together for proper gel strength. Therefore, if there is not enough acid, then there won’t be enough ‘webs’ of molecules to hold the solution together, which will result in a soft-set or no-set product. Too much acid makes the web effect happen too fast, which causes a pre-set or a brittle-set, making the jelly crack and weep water. The acid in the solution is the trigger that begins the setting process.
The amount of acid in the solution directly determines the temperature at which the solution will set. A more acidic solution needs a higher temperature to set, and a less acidic solution needs a lower temperature to set. The set temperature will also directly effect set time; the lower the temperature, the faster the solution will set. So, the acidity, temperature and set time go hand in hand.
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