Interesting facts on pectin

What is pectin?
Pectin is a natural raw material found in all fruits and vegetables. In plants, pectin has a stabilising and water-regulating function. Pectin is a water-soluble fibre that is indigestible for the human body. Pectin is suitable for vegans as it comes from plants. Pectins can be used in a variety of ways and in many applications as a gelling agent, thickener or stabiliser. Pectins are chemical polysaccharides (= long-chain sugars) and are among the so-called hydrocolloids (Greek hydro: water, kolla: glue).

How is pectin manufactured?
Pectin is obtained in a complex process from dried apple pomace and citrus peel, cleaned and concentrated. The pectin is dried, ground and standardised in subsequent processing steps.

What is pectin used for?
Pectin is used to texture food, as a gelling agent, thickener or stabiliser. Pectin is primarily well-known to the end consumer for its functional use with jam sugar to manufacture marmalades and jams. In addition to this conventional field of application, pectins are also used in industrial fruit preparations, confectionery, dairy products and drinks, as well as cosmetics and medical products.

Is pectin suitable for vegans?
Pectin is a purely plant product, and perfectly suitable for the manufacture of vegan food. In many product areas, animal gelatine can be replaced by pectin. Pectin’s nutritional effect is an additional benefit, as it is a valuable source of fibre.

What types of pectin exist?
Due to the widespread availability of the raw material and its outstanding functional properties, apples and citrus pectin dominate the market.

There are special types of pectin depending on the application:

  • High-ester pectins (“Classic”) with their sugar-acid gelling mechanism
  • Low-ester pectins (“Classic”) with their calcium-based function
  • Low-ester amidated pectins (“Amid”) with their flexibility, that are perfectly suited to low-sugar products

There is also instant pectin (easily dispersible) and combinations of apple and citrus pectin (“Combi Plus”).

Is pectin also suitable for products with a low acidity or non fruity products?
Special H&F pectins are also suitable for products with a low acidity and non fruity products, e.g. baking-stable chocolate, vanilla and caramel creams, confectionery without acidity such as vegan marshmallows, milk/caramel jellies, Turkish delight, vegetarian panna cotta or vegan desserts with milk alternatives (e.g. coconut or soy).

Why does pectin have an E number?
Pectin fulfils technical functions in the manufacture of end products. The allocation of E numbers is mandatory throughout the EU and roughly summarised in groups according to technological function, which are strictly checked for health harmlessness. Pectin is a natural product and the E number is a legal stipulation.

How should pectin be declared on the end product?
Pectin that is naturally contained in fruits does not need to be listed as an ingredient. As soon as pectin is added to the end product, it must be declared. According to EU law, pectin is declared by the group designation and the E number, e.g. “gelling agent: E 440”. As an alternative to the E number, the name “pectin” is also possible, e.g. “emulsifier: pectin”. The group designation indicates the application of the ingredient, e.g. gelling agent, emulsifier or stabiliser.