Perfectin’ Pectin

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The Struggle:

On a daily basis I answer questions sent in by our customers. Nothing hurts me more than having to tell a customer that something they want to accomplish is either beyond my knowledge or seemingly impossible. The reason we have so many different gelling agents is that they all have different unique properties. Then we get into mixing them and create thousands if not millions of different combinations, all with their own unique set of attributes. Elastic, brittle, lingering, cohesive, soft, firm; all of these and more are used to describe the texture of a gel. If that wasn’t enough, there are many other factors that play a part; Hydration temperature, thermoreversability, clarity, ph tolerance, to name a few. Sadly there is not one super gelling agent that has all of these attributes. One of the most common gelling ingredients is pectin. Pectin in its most common form is used with high sugar and acidic conditions. This type of pectin is called HM pectin, this is the pectin your grandma used to make her jams and jellies. But if there is low to no sugar HM pectin won’t work. Also, HM pectin isn’t thermoreversible so it cannot be melted. We’ve talked about the types of pectin before but we haven’t taken a deep dive into the pinnacle of pectin.


“What is the best type of pectin?” 


The NH doesn’t stand for New Hampshire


HM pectin requires sugar and acidity to gel. Its counterpart LM pectin requires calcium to gel. Then there is Pectin NH. Pectin NH is made from amidated LM pectin and calcium phosphate. Amidated means the pectin can gel with a lower amounts of calcium. As low as 10mg of calcium can be used to gel 1 gram of pectin. LM pectin requires calcium to gel, and Pectin NH contains the calcium needed to create a gel. This prevents you from having to purchase another ingredient alongside the pectin and figure out the right ratios to add in said calcium. Pectin NH is also thermoreversible which makes it perfect for glazes such as our apricot nappage. The mixture can be melted and set into a gel over and over again. Pectin also has one of the best flavor releases of any gelling agent, this way you do not need to worry about the muting of flavors that come from other thermoreversible gels such as agar. One common issue with all types of pectin is the syneresis or weeping of liquids. A simple fix for this is the addition of locust bean gum. Locust bean gum is a champion when it comes to preventing syneresis. If there is ever an issue with any gel weeping liquid, use LBG. Amidated LM pectin and Pectin NH will work with sugar, but not to the extent of a HM pectin. HM pectin can withstand extremely large amounts of sugar sometimes up to 80% of the recipe can be sugar and it will still gel. LM and NH will work with sugar, the caveat being the higher the ratio the weaker the gel will become. Our apricot nappage has a pretty high ratio of sugar and still gels. I wouldn’t push the sugar content past 50% as it will become a complete waste. At that point use HM pectin. 


Fun fact: what does the NH in Pectin NH stand for? Truth is we don’t really know the exact answer. But in doing research for this I wanted to know as much as possible about LM pectin. I believe I found out the answer. LM pectin is treated with ammonium hydroxide (NH3(aq)) in the amidation process. I believe the nh comes from the nitrogen (N) and hydrogen (H) that makes up the ammonium hydroxide. While this isn’t a proven fact I do know that this makes a lot more sense than calling it New Hampshire pectin like I have for the last 3 years of my life. 


Ready to get Cooking?

Give our Twisted White Chocolate Cremeux recipe a try! This enchanting white chocolate cremeux is caramelized to perfection, twist lightly to add a dynamic delight to your dessert platter. Pair with strawberry fruit glass and strawberry flavored Culinary Crystals.



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