Jam, preserves, or homemade gummy bears consist of crushed fruit or its juice, sugar, and possibly other ingredients. To achieve firm consistency, you need a thickener. In addition to animal gelatine, there is pectin as a vegan gelling agent.
Derived from plants: pectin
If you are vegan or would like to use a gelatine substitute in the kitchen for other reasons, pectin is a good choice. These are sugars or, more precisely, polysaccharides that occur naturally in plants. Apples and carrots, for example, contain up to 1.5 percent of the sugar. The peels of citrus fruits have a particularly high pectin content of around 30 percent. Industry chemically alters vegetable pectin and uses it in various forms and in conjunction with sugar to thicken, stabilize and gel food and cosmetic products. The additives are marked with E numbers – in addition to the approval number E 440 for pectins in general, there is also E 440ii for amidated pectin. A distinction is also made between low and high methylester pectins and pectic acids.
Cook jam with natural pectin
If you want to cook with pectin, you can use it completely naturally and, for example, make it yourself from leftover apples such as the core and skin. To do this, simply boil the apple small with water, strain the pulp thoroughly and boil down the liquid obtained. You can then use the natural pectins as a gelling agent for your jam recipes. If you choose a fruit with a high pectin content, such as gooseberries or quinces, for your recipe, jams can also be made without additional pectin. Incidentally, since pectin is used by the human body as roughage, it is of value from a health point of view and you can use it safely in the kitchen.
Why won’t my jam set?
Jam is made with gelling sugar, and here there are different mixing ratios of sugar and gelling agent, for example 1:3 or 1:2. As a rule of thumb, the more water the fruit contains, the higher the proportion of gelling agent needs to be. It is also important, for example, to weigh the fruit only after cleaning it, so that the ratio of fruit and jam sugar is really correct.
If your jam remains too liquid, the amount of preserving sugar is probably wrong or it was not cooked long enough. To avoid this, you can do a jelly test while cooking: after about 4 minutes of cooking, put a teaspoon of the hot jam on a small plate and let it cool down. If it becomes jelly-like or solid during this time, it will also have a good consistency later in the glass.
So you can still use pectin
Jellies and fruit gums are other recipes with pectin. The latter can then also be enjoyed by vegans who otherwise have to say no to gummy bears with gelatine. Soft or firm fruit candies can also be made with the thickener: how about a fruit bread made from sea buckthorn berries, sugar, and pectin? If you don’t have pectin handy, you can use agar or carrageenan to thicken liquids. In contrast to gelatine, these are also purely vegetables. If you would like to find out more about the animal gelling agent, our expert will explain which part of the animal gelatine is made from.