pectin substances

Pectins, or pectin polysaccharides, are a group of water-soluble carbohydrates that are found in the cell membranes and intercellular tissues of some plants.

What is pectin

Pectin is a natural substance found in berries and fruits. Especially a lot of it in apples. In fruits, pectin helps keep the cell walls held together. Unripe fruits contain propectin, a precursor substance that turns into pectin only after fruit ripening. During the ripening stage, the substance helps the fruit retain its shape and firmness. In ripe fruit, it breaks down to the state of simple saccharides, which are completely soluble in water. It is this chemical process that explains why an overripe fruit becomes soft and loses its shape.

History of discovery

Jams and jellies appeared in cookbooks of housewives quite a long time ago. At least in the 18th century, and more precisely in 1750, the recipes for these desserts were published in a London edition. Then jelly-like sweets were made from apples, currants, quinces and some other fruits.

It was only in 1820 that the substance was first isolated, which, as it turned out, is actually the key to making jams and jellies. Then, when people learned the list of gelling products, they learned how to make marmalades from fruits and berries, which by themselves are not able to thicken. And in order to deceive nature, confectioners resorted to apple components as an additional ingredient.

The first commercial version of pectin was in the form of apple pomace. The first liquid extract of the substance appeared in 1908 in Germany. Then they learned to produce it in the USA. It is the American Douglas who owns the patent for the production of liquid pectin. The document dates from 1913. A little later, this substance gained wide popularity in Europe. And in recent years, the center of production are Mexico and Brazil. There, pectin is extracted from citrus fruits.

Where is he kept?

Pectin is found in many fruits and berries that grow in our latitudes. And these are apples, pears, quince, plums, peaches, apricots, cherries, gooseberries, strawberries, grapes, raspberries, currants, cranberries, blackberries. Also an important source of pectin are citrus fruits: oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, tangerines. But as for citruses, in these fruits the substance is concentrated mainly in the skin, there is very little of it in the pulp.

How to determine the concentration in fruits

The concentration of pectin depends on the stage of ripeness of the fruit. This is of course important information. But still, how to determine whether the fruit is ripe enough for harvest? Well, the truth is, do not carry every fetus for research in the laboratory. And for such cases, there is one trick that will help determine the approximate concentration of the substance.

This will require a teaspoon of crushed fruit and 1 tablespoon of alcohol. Mix the two ingredients, put in a tightly closed container and shake lightly. If the fruit contains a high concentration of pectin, the secreted juice will turn into a strong gel-like lump. A low pectin content will result in the formation of fine rubber particles. The average level of pectin content should give the result in the form of several pieces of a jelly-like substance.

Fruit pectin: benefits and harms to the body

Most plant foods contain pectins. But the highest concentration is found in citrus fruits, apple and plum peels. These foods are also an excellent source of soluble fiber.

Some studies conducted by American scientists have shown that foods containing pectin can prevent the spread of cancer cells throughout the body.

If we talk about harm to health, then pectin substances, perhaps, are not capable of harming a healthy person. But still, before taking pectin supplements, it is better to consult a doctor.

Extremely rarely, powdered pectin can cause asthma attacks in patients as well as flatulence. It is important to remember that citrus fruits belong to a group of highly allergenic foods. It is also important for people with citrus intolerance to avoid pectin made from this kind of fruit. Research suggests that people who are allergic to cashew nuts or pistachios have the potential to suffer from pectin intolerance as well.

Benefits of Fruit Pectin

Fruit pectin has many beneficial effects on the human body. Let's consider some of them.

Lowers cholesterol

High cholesterol is one of the main factors in the development of cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that citrus pectin reduces blood cholesterol levels by 6-7 percent. But, as scientists say, this is not the limit. Apple pectin gives even better results in the fight against low density lipoproteins.

Effects on Digestion

Being a form of soluble fiber, pectin transforms into a gel-like substance when it enters the digestive tract, which helps to slow down the digestive process. This effect allows you to maintain a feeling of satiety for a long time, which is especially important for people on a low-calorie diet for weight loss. In addition, the gelling properties of pectin help in the treatment of diarrhea.

Fight against cancer

According to data published in 1941 in a scientific journal in Poland, pectin promotes the death of cancer cells in the colon. Also, the ability of pectin to “pull” carcinogens from the body will help reduce the risk of cancer. But while this aspect of the impact on the body, scientists continue to explore.

Other benefits:

  • improves colonic peristalsis;
  • has a positive effect on the intestinal microflora;
  • removes toxins from the body;
  • lowers blood sugar levels;
  • improves circulation;
  • destroys pathogenic bacteria.

Daily requirement

The daily requirement for pectin is approximately 15 g. This portion is enough to regulate cholesterol levels. If you want to lose weight with the help of this substance, it is important to increase the daily portion to 25 g. By the way, in order to get 5 g of pectin, you will have to eat about half a kilogram of fresh fruit.

It is important to increase pectin intake for people with high sugar levels or cholesterol, overweight, cancer, constipation. The need for a substance increases with intoxication and infectious diseases.

Homemade jam and pectin

Probably everyone has a grandmother or a friend who, as soon as fruits appear in the gardens, starts making jams. And at first, this process seems like real magic - the liquid mixture, boiled over low heat, turns into jelly or thick jam. But if you know that this process becomes possible only due to the presence of pectin in fruits, all the magic is dispelled. Although, not so. The magic is not dispelled - just jam reveals its main secret.

But even grandmothers, who have digested hundreds of liters of jam in their lifetime, can sometimes fail to get fruity sweetness. And the pectin already familiar to us will be the culprit.

"Problem" jam: why is this happening?

A granular, chunky jam indicates that the fruit contained too much pectin.

Too hard jam will result if the product is cooked at a very low temperature. In this case, the water evaporates, and the pectin is not destroyed. A similar effect will be obtained when cooking on too high a fire without stirring.

The use of unripe fruits with a low pectin content is also not the best effect on the consistency of a sweet brew.

When the jam is overheated, the pectin structure is destroyed. As a result, the product loses its ability to harden.

Stages of production

Production of pectin substances is a process consisting of several stages. Different companies produce the substance according to their own technology, but something in this process always remains identical.

At the initial stage, the pectin producer receives apple pomace or citrus peel (usually this product is supplied without problems by juice producers). Then hot water is added to the raw material, with the addition of mineral acids and other enzymes. Solid particles are removed, the solution is concentrated by removing some of the liquid. After aging, the concentrate is mixed with alcohol, which allows the pectin to precipitate. The precipitate is separated, washed with alcohol, and dried. In the washing process, salts or alkalis can be used. Before or after drying, the pectin can be treated with ammonia. The last stage of production consists in grinding the dry, hardened substance into a powder. Ready-made pectin is often sold in the form of mixtures with other nutritional supplements.

Pectin in the food industry

Due to the ability to form a gel-like solution, pectin is used in the food industry for the manufacture of marmalades, jams, jams as an additive E440. It plays the role of a stabilizer, thickener, clarifier, water-retaining and filtering component.

The main sources for industrial pectin are citrus and apple components. From citruses, the skin is usually used, and from apples, the pomace after making cider is used for processing. Other sources: sugar beet, persimmon, sunflower baskets (all in the form of cake). By the way, quite a bit of pectin, fruit acids and sugar are enough to make jelly.

Pectin, present in the food industry, is a polymer composed of almost 65 percent galacturonic acid. It is also found in various sauces, marshmallows, jelly products, some sweets, ice cream, and is even part of activated charcoal.

Other uses

The thickening properties of this substance have been used in the pharmaceutical and textile industries. It is believed that pectin is able to reduce the level of low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol), as well as treat diarrhea. In addition, there is an opinion that pectin contributes to the death of cancer cells.

Pectin has interesting physical and chemical properties that affect the cardiovascular system and digestive functions of the body. Known for its ability to lower cholesterol and improve the condition of the intestines. So, as it turned out, apple jam is not just a tasty product, but extremely healthy. Keep this in mind when choosing a sweet for tea next time.