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 in apples. In fruits, pectin helps maintain cell walls joined together. Unripe fruits contain propectin - a precursor substance that turns into pectin only after the fruit ripens. At the ripening stage, the substance helps the fruit maintain its shape and firmness. In ripe fruits, it breaks down to the state of simple saccharides, which completely dissolve in water. It is this chemical process that explains why the overripe fruit becomes soft and loses its shape.
Jams and jellies in the cookbooks of the hostesses appeared a long time ago. At least in the XVIII century, and more precisely in 1750, the recipes for these desserts were published in the London edition. Then jelly-like sweets were made from apples, currants, quinces and some other fruits.
And only in 1820 the substance was first isolated, which, as it turned out, was 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 in themselves are not able to thicken. And in order to fool nature, the confectioners resorted to apple ingredients as an additional ingredient.
The first commercial variant of pectin was in the form of an apple squeeze. 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 it contained?
Pectin is found in many fruits and berries that grow in our latitudes. And these are apples, pears, quinces, plums, peaches, apricots, cherries, gooseberries, strawberries, grapes, raspberries, currants, cranberries, blackberries. Citrus fruits are also an important source of pectin: oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, tangerines. But as for citruses, in these fruits the substance is concentrated mainly in the skin, in the crumb it is very small.
How to determine the concentration in fruits
The concentration of pectin depends on the stage of ripeness of the fruit. This, of course, is good advice. But still, how to determine if the fruit is ripe enough to 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.
To do this, you need a teaspoon of chopped fruit and 1 tablespoon of alcohol. Mix the two ingredients, put in a tightly closed container and shake gently. If the fruit contains a high concentration of pectin, the extracted juice will turn into a strong gel-like lump. The low content of pectin substances will lead to the formation of small rubber particles. The average level of pectin should produce a result in the form of several pieces of a jelly-like substance.
Fruit pectin: benefits and harms to the body
Most plant foods contain pectin. But the largest concentration is in citrus, apple and plum peels. These foods are also an excellent source of soluble fiber.
Some studies by American scientists have shown that products containing pectin can prevent the spread of cancer cells throughout the body.
If we talk about the harm to health, then pectin substances, perhaps, are not able to harm a healthy person. But still, before taking pectin supplements, it is better to consult a doctor.
Very rarely, powdered pectin can cause asthma attacks in patients, as well as flatulence. It is important to remember that citrus fruits belong to the group of highly allergenic foods. It is also important for people with citrus intolerance to pectin made from this kind of fruit. Studies say that people with allergies to cashew nuts or pistachios can potentially suffer from intolerance to pectin.
Benefits of Fruit Pectin
Fruit pectin has many beneficial effects on the human body. Let's consider some of them.
High cholesterol is one of the main factors in the development of cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that citrus pectin lowers blood cholesterol 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.
Being a form of soluble fiber, pectin, getting into the digestive tract, is transformed into a gel-like substance, 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 who follow a low-calorie diet for weight loss. In addition, the gelling properties of pectin help in the treatment of diarrhea.
According to data published in 1941 in a scientific journal in Poland, pectin contributes to the death of cancer cells in the colon. Also, the ability of pectin to draw carcinogens from the body will help reduce the risk of cancer. But while this aspect of the effect on the body, scientists continue to explore.
Other useful properties:
- improves peristalsis of the colon;
- positively affects the intestinal microflora;
- removes toxins from the body;
- lowers blood sugar;
- improves blood circulation;
- destroys pathogenic bacteria.
The daily requirement for pectin is approximately 15 g. This portion is enough to regulate cholesterol. Wanting to lose weight with this substance, it is important to increase the daily portion by 25 g. By the way, to get 5 g of pectin, you will have to eat about half a kilogram of fresh fruit.
It is important to increase the consumption of pectin for people with high levels of sugar 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, is taken to cook jams. And at first, this process seems like real magic - a 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 the fruit, all the magic is dispelled. Although not so. The magic does not dispel - just jam reveals its main secret.
But even with grandmothers, who in their lifetime digested hundreds of liters of jam, fruit sweetness can sometimes fail. And the culprit will be the familiar pectin.
"Problem" jam: why is this happening?
The granular, lumpy texture of the jam suggests that the fruit contained too much pectin.
Too hard jam will turn out if the product is cooked at a very low temperature. At the same time, water evaporates, but pectin does not collapse. A similar effect will be obtained when cooking on too high a fire without stirring.
The use of unripe fruits with a high pectin content also does not have the best effect on the consistency of sweet brew.
When jam is overheated, the structure of pectin is destroyed. As a result, the product loses its hardenability.
The production of pectin substances is a multi-step process. Different companies produce the substance according to their own technology, but something in this process remains always identical.
At the initial stage, the pectin producer receives apple squeeze or citrus peel (usually this product is supplied without problems by juice producers). Then, hot water is added to the raw material, which contains mineral acids or other enzymes. Solids are removed, the solution is concentrated by removing some of the liquid. After exposure, the concentrate is mixed with alcohol, which allows precipitation of pectin. The precipitate is separated, washed with alcohol, dried. In the washing process, salts or alkalis can be used. Before or after drying, pectin can be treated with ammonia. The last stage of production is the grinding of dry hardened matter into 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 E440 additive. It plays the role of a stabilizer, thickener, brightener, water-retaining and filtering component.
The main sources for industrial pectin are citrus and apple ingredients. Peel is usually used from citrus fruits, and apple is used for processing pomace after processing cider. Other sources: sugar beets, persimmons, sunflower baskets (all in the form of oilcake). By the way, for the preparation of jelly quite a bit of pectin, fruit acids and sugar are enough.
Pectin, presented in the food industry, is a polymer that is almost 65 percent composed of galacturonic acid. It is also found in various sauces, pastille, jelly products, some sweets, ice cream and even is part of activated carbon.
The thickening properties of this substance have found application in the pharmaceutical and textile industries. Pectin is believed to be able to lower low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol), as well as treat diarrhea. In addition, it is believed that pectin contributes to the death of cancer cells.
In cosmetology, apple cider vinegar, a product rich in pectin, is actively used. Wraps and the use of this substance helps get rid of cellulite. In addition, pectin helps cleanse the skin of age spots, give it elasticity and a healthy look.
Pectin has interesting physicochemical properties that affect the cardiovascular system and digestive functions of the body. Its ability to lower cholesterol and improve bowel condition is known. So, as it turned out apple jam - the product is not just tasty, but extremely healthy. Keep this in mind when choosing sweets for tea the next time.