What have I got against pectin?

In short, nothing – the longer answer is more involved and does explain why I try to avoid it when possible.

We’ve posted a lot of our recent jams and jellies and have mentioned frequently that we haven’t used pectin in them.  While we’ve explained this in the past, I thought it would be a good idea to readdress now as it may have enquiring minds wondering and we’re likely to start using it in some of our coming recipes as we head away from fruit and into the world of jellies based on veggies (such as peppers).

Pectin is essential in thickening jams and jellies.  Pectin occurs naturally in fruits (in varrying strengths dependant on the type of fruit and the specific harvest on your table) and occurs in it’s greatest amounts in skin, seeds and stems of most fruit.  Apples have in in abundance, peppers have low amounts and raspberries can vary wildly.

Making pepper jelly demands adding pectin.  Apples rarely do.  Raspberries are hit and miss.

Tasting pectin will instantly explain why we try to avoid it – it is extremely bitter.  The more pectin added, the more sugar needed.  More bitter and more sweet equals less natural flavor of the final preserve (as well as hightened sugar intake).  In small-batch preserves, pectin can increase the amount of required sugar by more than double!

We use it when we need it, avoid it when we don’t and run the risk when it’s a close call.  We’ve never had a problem with raspberry (or strawberry jam) but our blueberry jam did not set completely last year.  We ended up with a half jam, half syrup that was awesome on pancakes.  It was also my Uncle John’s favourite of everything we made.  In other words, even our defects are tasty!


  1. I tasted my commercially processed pectin – it tasted like smarties! Am I missing something or are my tastebuds goofy?

    • Laughging, yours may taste different than ours which is crazy bitter.

      I wonder however if your brand has added sugar or some sweetner. I`m betting your tastebuds are fine Robinson!!! :)

      This is a primary reason why purchased pectin comes with it`s own recipes.

      Having said I`ll that, I`m not sure I`d want strawberry-smartie jam :)

  2. Sarah C. says:

    I am a fan of using Pomona’s Pectin. I like it because it allows for less sugar to be used in recipes which I think allows the flavor of what you are preserving to come through. Where I am, its about $5 per box, but each box makes about 4 batches of jam. Have you tried this alternative? It can even be used to make Jelly…

    • I also like Pomona’s- I find that their jelly recipes set too firmly for me, though, and have more of a jello texture, almost. I always forget to reduce the recommended amount of pectin when making jelly with Pomona’s pectin. But for jams, Pomona’s is where it’s at, especially since I prefer artisan breads and sourdoughs for toast and they can be quite holey! You can’t have runny jam on lacy toast, and especially can’t serve it to tiny children! :)
      But, yes- I don’t use regular onecommercial pectin. I hate the bureaucratic instructions and the ever-present specter of failure!

      • Yes, I typically reduce the amount of pectin in most of Pomona’s recipes. Its up to personal preference really. I like it a little firmer than some but the folks at Pomona’s want their preserved fruits to jiggle. :)


  1. [...] What have I got against pectin? I used to use a lot of pectin in our jam.  I now avoid it when possible; sometimes I even make jam that’s so runny I have to eat it over the sink.  If you’re on autopilot with pectin, consider flying solo (taste pectin by itself to find out why – the article explains more).  Besides, it’s fun to eat over the sink. [...]

  2. [...] What Have I got Against Pectin? My initial thoughts on why I avoid commercial pectin and an easy experiment for those of you who use it. [...]

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