Pectin is a vital ingredient in preserves such as jams and jellies. It is the ingredient that allows the other ingredients to congeal and create a jelly consistency. Pectin is a type of starch that can be harvested from the cell walls of fruits and vegetables.
More manufacturers are now creating commercially produced pectin rather than using the natural form. Many people don’t even realize that they are consuming pectin unless they check the ingredients of all of the jellies in their pantry.
Don’t worry, though. Unknowingly eating pectin does not break your vegan-friendly diet as it is 100% vegan.
Today we are going to be looking at the basic facts about pectin such as how it’s made and what it is used for. Without further ado, let’s get into learning all about the wonders of pectin.
What is pectin?
Pectin is a substance added to foods to make them thicker in consistency. It is both naturally found and commercially made. This is often enough to make vegans worry as many things commercially made can be either made with natural ingredients or animal-derived ingredients.
However, pectin is not one of these substances. It is most commonly made from leftover fruit matter such as citrus peels and apple matter. These scraps will have come from juice production. Sugar beet pomace can also be used to create pectin but this is less common.
Pectin is a heteropolysaccharide. In other words, it is a long chain molecule made up of various carbohydrates. These carbs are in the form of monosaccharides.
Pectin is just one of the substances that make up the dietary fiber in which the body cannot completely break down. This allows it to deliver some health benefits to the body which we will be discovering more about later in our article.
Lots of fruits have pectin within their cell walls, and different types of fruit have varying levels of pectin. The best sources of pectin are carrots, apples, pears, citrus fruits, and plums.
How is pectin made?
Once the fruit has been juiced, the pulp will then be whisked away to create pectin. The fruit matter will be treated with heated dilated acid, allowing the pectin to be drawn out of the fruit and into the acid.
The solution is then concentrated again and precipitated by using a type of alcohol, such as ethanol. Once this process has been completed, the pectin is washed and dried thoroughly to remove all of the acid and alcohol.
Once dried, the pectin will take the form of either a white or brown powder. This is not ready to be sold commercially for keen jam and jelly makers to buy and use for their own concoctions.
What is pectin used for?
An additive, pectin can also be named under its E number name E440. It is an additive that is used to create a jelly or thicker consistency within baking. It can also be used as a stabilizer or an emulsifier.
Pectin is created from what would otherwise be waste products, such as fruit peels. This appeals to a lot of people who value the planet and want to use responsibly sourced ingredients for their baking hobby.
How pectin is made also allows it to be manufactured cheaply and therefore sold at a low price. Pectin can be created incredibly inexpensively by working smartly alongside the juicing industry.
Pectin is also sometimes used in medications and health supplements. Again, as it is vegan-friendly, there is no need to avoid medications that contain pectin in their ingredients list.
What foods include pectin?
As we have mentioned, pectin can be used for a number of different foods within the industry. However, as the primary role of pectin is to create a gel-like consistency of foods, it is almost always used in jams, jellies, and other preserves.
Without using pectin, the ingredients in jams and jellies would be too watery and thin to spread on anything.
Jams and Jellies
Pectin is a popular ingredient in jams and jellies, but there are also recipes out there that don’t use pectin. Whether you use pectin or not will greatly affect the consistency of the end product.
If the base fruit of the jam is one that is already high in pectin, such as orange or pears, then pectin is not always necessary to add into the recipe. The more pectin you add to your recipe, the thicker your jam or jelly will be.
Pectin is sometimes added to canned fruits to act as a preservative and a thickener of the juices surrounding the fruit in the can.
Pectin can also be used as an emulsifier for condiments such as mayonnaise. While mayonnaise is not vegan-friendly, there are now vegan-friendly mayonnaises gracing the market.
Pectin can be used to thicken up a glaze for plenty of different desserts.
Soups and yogurts can include pectin to improve the consistency and make them more enjoyable to eat. Some drinks also can contain pectin, but this is less common.
Pectin can also be used to thicken up candies, including some vegan-friendly candies as well.
Foods with the highest pectin amounts
Below is a table of all of the fruits and vegetables that contain pectin and how much you can get from each one. While apples are the main source of pectin in many food additives, there are actually a number of other fruits and vegetables that contain more pectin.
Fruit or Vegetable
Range of Pectin Found
Average Amount of Pectin
0.71 to 0.84
0.71 to 1.32
0.59 to 1.28
0.27 to 1.11
0.68 to 1.19
1.17 to 2.92
0.24 to 0.54
0.51 to 1.00
0.09 to 0.28
3.30 to 4.50
2.80 to 2.99
2.34 to 2.38
1.00 to 2.00
As you can see, there are a number of foods that are higher in pectin than apples. The amount of pectin in each fruit and vegetable is incredibly varied. For example, you might not need to add any pectin into a grapefruit jelly, but you certainly would for a cherry jam.
Health benefits of pectin
We mentioned earlier that pectin can sometimes be used in health supplements, and you might be thinking why. Well, pectin actually contains some interesting health benefits for the consumer to enjoy.
It has previously been used to treat diarrhea, but the US Food and Drug Administration found that there was insufficient evidence to support this use in 2003. It has also been used for a number of other things such as losing weight, treating high cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar.
It has even been used as a preventative measure for colon and prostate cancer. Below are some of the most prominent health benefits of consuming pectin.
Aiding weight loss
One study found that apple pectin can help aid in weight loss by keeping people feeling fuller for longer. The study was done with 74 participants and therefore is not the most valid study, but it certainly draws some interesting conclusions to think about.
Stimulating the growth of healthy bacteria
There is some evidence to support the theory that apple pectin can stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. This can give a positive effect on your gut health as well as your cardiovascular health, as well.
A meta-analysis study showed promising results of how pectin can lower cholesterol levels. In participants, pectin was found to reduce cholesterol levels by up to 16%.
Yes, pectin is vegan and actually has plenty of health benefits that go along with consuming it. It is found in discarded fruit and vegetable matter which makes it 100% vegan-friendly.
It is most commonly found in jams and jellies, but can actually be found in a number of different foods such as condiments and candies. So, next time you have a hankering for a jelly sandwich, you know that you can eat it without feeling guilty about breaking your vegan diet.
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