Recipe Lab Book Post: Pectin Jellies (Pâté de fruit)

When I originally started this blog, a big part of the point of it was keeping track of my more successful culinary experiments so that I could repeat them as needed.  I haven’t really done that, but today I definitely need to, since I’m trying to work out a new recipe for pectin jellies.  This is going to be a blog post without pictures, because it really is mostly notes to myself.  But they might be of interest to other culinary chemists, too.

You might ask why I need a new recipe for pectin jellies, since the original one was so good.  Unfortunately, at some point, I stopped being able to find the pectin I needed, at which point the recipe stopped working. I’ve been trying a few different pectins without success.  The Lotus brand is the easiest to get hold of, but it just doesn’t work with the recipe I have.  After discussion today with the lovely chocolatiers and patissiers at Savour, I learned that one of the reasons for this is that Lotus adds dextrose to their pectin, so it just isn’t as strong as I’m expecting.

(This isn’t an act of obnoxiousness by Lotus, by the way – when you make pâtés de fruits, you usually start by mixing the pectin with some sugar so that it doesn’t clump up and make your confections lumpy.  Lotus has done this for you – I just don’t know what proportions they are using.)

(Note to self – I wonder if I could write to Lotus and ask what their ratio is?)

Anyway, while I am assured by Savour that they definitely use Lotus or Sosa Pectin Jaune for their jellies, they have evidently changed the recipe since the class I attended ten years ago, probably for the same reason I’m doing this now.  Kirsten Tibbals very kindly gave me the two recipes they currently use, so that I could try to rework my own recipe.

I’m not going to reproduce it here, because I’m pretty sure that would be taking advantage of her generosity.  Instead, you get my first two, semi-successful attempts.  Hopefully by this time next week, I’ll be able to give you a proper recipe.

Attempt 1 – Sosa Pectin Jaune, Rhubarb and Strawberry Jellies with Mint

Kirsten’s recipe uses a fruit puree instead of the zest and juice I’m used to.  I therefore decided to make my own fruit puree with what I had on hand, which was half a bunch of rhubarb, some frozen strawberries, and a handful of mint.

180g rhubarb
120g frozen strawberries
small handful of mint leaves
splash of water

Cook for 15-20 minutes until fruit has collapsed, then puree.

In a bowl mix:

20 g pectin
95 g sugar

Whisk in the puree.  Return to saucepan, and heat.

Add:

335 g sugar
65g glucose syrup

Bring to boil.  Boil to 106°C.

Add 10g citric acid solution (5g citric acid, 5g water), pour into 20cm square tin lined with baking paper.  Leave to set.

Notes:

  • Way too much pectin – texture a bit too short (but also softer than I like – where is the elasticity?).  Try 15g next time?
  •  Mixture is terribly thick even before boiling.  It mostly wants to burn.  Sugar content from fruit may be too high? 
  • Did not get to 106°C – too much burning.  May have reached 103°C.
  • Forgot to add the citric acid until in tray, then stirred it around; did not fully mix in
  • Looks really ugly and opaque
  • Tastes really good, though!  Maybe dilute with juice of half a lemon to solve excessive thickness of puree?

Attempt 2 – Sosa Pectin Jaune, Apple Jellies

I know it’s bad scientific practice to do something totally different, but I didn’t have any more rhubarb or strawberries, and I wanted to see what happened with a much thinner mixture.  Also, I was too lazy to make another puree.

In the saucepan, mix

15 g pectin
95 g sugar

Whisk in

350 g pink lady apply juice

Heat, whisking constantly, until it boils.

Add:

335 g sugar
65g glucose syrup

Bring to boil.  Boil to 106°C.

Add 10g citric acid solution (5g citric acid, 5g water), pour into 20cm square tin lined with baking paper.  Leave to set.

Notes:

  • Yeah, OK, I should have just trusted Kirsten and used 10g of pectin. Texture still a bit short, but given how much more water was in my original mixture I didn’t want to take the risk.
  • Failure mode for a thin mixture is that it foams enormously, quadrupling in size, and boils over the stovetop even when you turn down the heat.
  • Quite a pretty look – glassy
  • Tastes like apple.  A little dull, but will roll in sugar mixed with cinnamon or Gewurzhaus gingerbread spice and that will fix it.
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