We will focus primarily on standard sugar pectin’s a.k.a. high methoxyl pectin. Our SSP and LP pectin’s are in this category.
These pectin’s are designed for recipes that generally have more sugar than fruit.
Law 1. The correct amount. This becomes particularly important when you take a small recipe and make it bigger. Always use a weight measurement rather than a volume measurement when possible. Use 2% of our SSP pectin for jam and 2.5% for jelly. Multiply the total batch weight (all ingredients combined) to determine the proper amount of pectin. When multiplying a percentage remember to move the decimal point two places to the left. Example: jam recipe with a total batch weight of 50 ounces X .02 = 1 oz. SSP
Law 2. Hydration. Pectin should never be hydrated in any solution greater than 25 brix. This means you should always add your pectin to the fruit and bring it to a boil before adding the sugar. You should also add the sugar in two parts thereby keeping the batch temperature higher and lessening the chances of a preset situation. It is also a good practice to add any additional acid (citric acid /lemon juice) the recipe calls for at the end during the final boil. Maintaining a higher pH during the cooking process will assist in eliminating a batch preset.
Law 3. Brix/Sugar Content. In order to activate standard sugar pectin’s an optimum brix of 65 should be achieved. It is possible to achieve a gel as low as 56-57 brix. In order to do that the pH must remain very low 2.6 – 2.7. This gel however will tend to be brittle with some water separation (syneresis). This type of gel is suited for wine jellies where the producer wants to maintain some alcohol. Going the other direction, achieving a brix higher than 65 is possible by increasing the pH to 3.3 – 3.4. As the brix increases the probability of sugar crystallization will become more evident.
Law 4. pH. The optimum pH for a rapid set pectin like oue SSP is 3.2. Optimum pH for a slow set pectin like our SSP Slow Set is 3.1. Optimum brix for both pectin’s is 65. As stated above too much acid and too little acid will cause increasing problems the farther away from optimum you go.
To summarize. If all four laws are maintained a proper gel will occur. When you are experiencing problems one or more of these laws is being broken. My goal in writing this blog is to give the jam maker a place to start in figuring out how to correct the problem. See other blog on test instruments.