What is Pectin?
For those of you who don't jar your own jellies and jams, you may be unfamiliar with pectin. It is a polysaccaride that is found naturally in fruits like berries and when combined with sugar and heated up becomes a thickening agent. Before pectin, you would have to continuously reduce jam over heat to get it to the right consistency.
Found in most supermarkets but with a limited shelf life, you want to use a new box each year. I have found an excellent source describing just about everything you want to know about pectin here.
What About Sugar Free Pectin?
I received an email from Robert N. asking about the availability of "No Sugar Pectin" for preparing raspberry jam. I immediately contacted Chef Jennie Field, a graduate of Orlando Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts School in Florida. Here are Robert's question and the Chef's response:
Hi RG - Kathy M. suggested I ask you to help in our quest for NO-SUGAR PECTIN. We grow lots and lots of raspberries and the family loves the jam my wife makes, but prefers it with no-sugar pectin. We just have not been able to find it. Any suggestions?
Chef Field's Response:
Most pectin needs a high sugar to gel--there are special low-sugar and no-sugar kinds you can get to make jams and jellies with a lower sugar content. Here's a link to purchase no-sugar pectin:
Apparently, you can use this type of pectin to make a Polaner All-Fruit type of jam: fruit, some fruit juice, and maybe some sugar along with the no sugar pectin. In my experience, raspberries have a pretty high pectin content. I used to make a great raspberry jam at the restaurant with just IQF raspberries, lemon juice, a bit of salt, and sugar. Not sure how "low-sugar" they want their jam to be, but my ratio was 1 to .9 fruit to sugar--gelled just fine, as long as I reduced it to the right consistency on the burner.