One of my earliest culinary memories is my grandmother making pineapple jam during summer. My grandmother’s pineapple jam is the product of what has become a ritual in our family, and one that signals that yes, summer is here.
I may not have had the same interest in the culinary arts at that young age but the process of making jam was still interesting enough to warrant my attention. One thing that I found curious at that time was her addition of pectin to the jam. I’ve always wondered what it was for. At that time I thought it was an ingredient that added flavor to the jam. Only when I got older and starting reading about the stuff did I find out that pectin is used to help thicken the jam.
Pectin is a soluble fiber that is found in fruits and plants. It is used in jam making to help bulk up the jam and provide that “solid” jelly-like consistency. Different amounts of pectin can be found depending on the fruit. Some of the fruits that contain a high amount of pectin include sour apples, sour blackberries, currants, eastern concord grapes, lemons, plums, cranberries and quinces. These fruits can be turned into jam without having to add pectin to the mixture.
For all other fruits, you will have to add pectin to achieve that jam-like consistency. Fruits that do not have a lot of pectin include apricots, blueberries, figs, peaches, strawberries, and pineapples. For these fruits to get that jam consistency you will need to use pectin. There are many commercial pectin products that you can use when you make jam. As for the exact amount you need, it’s better to eyeball it. To find out how much pectin you need to use, get a spoonful of the jam you are cooking and place an ice cube at the bottom so that the jam will cool down. Look at the consistency. If it’s runny or still more liquid, you can add more pectin until it achieves the consistency you desire.