This page will inform the average pectin user on the technical function of pectins in different environments as it pertains to jam and jelly production. The first part will address High Methoxyl (HM) pectins, and the second part will explain Low Methoxyl (LM) pectins. Lastly, we will offer some tips, tools, and additional products to help you fine tune your product.
PART ONE: High Methoxyl (HM) pectins
HM pectin is the most commonly used pectin, and it breaks into two main categories: Rapid Set and Slow Set. Rapid and Slow Set pectins both react the same way in most situations; however, what separates them from each other is set time and set temperature. Rapid Set pectin will set faster and set at a higher temperature than Slow Set. Because of this, a user would choose Rapid Set pectin for any jams and jellies requiring suspension of matter (such as fruit, peppers, etc.). Slow Set pectin would be chosen for jellies that don’t require suspension. You could use Rapid Set for both situations, but could only use Slow Set for jellies without suspended matter. Our Pacific Pectin Mix for standard sugar jams and jellies is HM pectin.
Parameters for HM pectins
Brix and pH are the two parameters to ensure proper gel strength in your jam, jelly, or preserve.
Brix is the measurement of soluble solids in a liquid. The brix scale is 1 through 100. A soluble solid is any ingredient that goes into solution and maintains its structure. Example: If you put sugar into boiling water it will clarify and you will no longer be able to see it with the naked eye. If you continue to boil the water, eventually you will see the sugar crystals start to form again as evaporation removes the water. So sugar is a soluble solid as well as pectin, acid, and natural sugars in fruit and juices.
The brix parameter for HM pectins is 59% to 66% of your total batch weight as soluble solids (59 to 66 brix), with 65% producing the optimum gel strength. Additionally, The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines a jam, jelly, marmalade or preserve as containing 65% Soluble Solids (65 Brix).
PH is the measurement of the acid content. The pH scale is 1 to 13; 1 being acidic, and 13 being basic. The pH parameter for HM pectins is between 2.9 and 3.3, with 3.2 being optimum.
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