[NAFEX] Sugars and Pectin

Don Yellman dyellman at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 3 02:03:05 EDT 2003

Perhaps I am oversimplyfing sugars, but it seems to me that sugar is 
sugar, whether it is sucrose or fructose from grapes, honey, or whatever 
source.  Commercial jams and jellies have so much sugar in them as to be 
practically inedible, and even the premium brands advertised as having 
no added sugar use imported white grape juice concentrate which is still 
sugar.  The only difference is they can be advertised as "all fruit". 
Apple pectin requires a lot of sugar to jell, whether it is from the 
store or made at home.  From the health and nutrition perspective, I 
have seen at least one report indicating that fructose may be more 
efficient at adding weight to the human body than sucrose, although the 
article did not make it clear why that should be so.  Certainly, 
fructose has no real advantages over sucrose as a sweetener.

I don't really understand the chemistry, but there is a citrus peel "low 
methoxyl" pectin product on the market called Pomona's that will jell 
fruit juices with very low sugar or none at all, utilizing monocalcium 
phosphate as a catalyst for fruits that are low in natural calcium.  Now 
we make jellies with less than half the amount of sugar required for 
apple pectins, and they are very fruity.  We routinely had jelling 
failures in the old Sure-Jell and Certo days, even with the recommended 
heavy doses of sugar.  A box of Pomona's pectin, which costs about 
$3.50, contains 9 teaspoons of pectin, enough to produce over 10 pints 
(16 oz.) of jelly if directions are followed rigorously.  However, we 
routinely short the recipe, and get over 15 pints from one packet, for a 
cost of about 25 cents per pint.  It never fails to jell at that rate, 
although if you short it much more than two-thirds, you will end up with 
a nice fruit syrup.  We tried cutting the pectin in half, that's what we 
got, and we ended up using it on ice cream and pancakes.

I'm all for home produced materials and solutions when they are equal or 
superior to commercially available products, especially when they save a 
significant amount of money.  We have been using Pomona's for about 10 
years now, and I have yet to see anything that can approach this product 
for making low sugar jams and jellies at a reasonable cost.  Pomona's 
comes from Greenfield, MA, and they have a website at www.permaculture.com.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

More information about the nafex mailing list