Pectin (from Greek πηκτικός – pektikos, “congealed, curdled”[1]) is a structural heteropolysaccharide contained in the primary cell walls ofterrestrial plants. It was first isolated and described in 1825 by Henri Braconnot.[2] It is produced commercially as a white to light brown powder, mainly extracted from citrus fruits, and is used in food as a gelling agent particularly in jams and jellies. It is also used in fillings, sweets, as a stabilizer in fruit juices and milk drinks and as a source of dietary fiber.


The main use for pectin (vegetable agglutinate) is as a gelling agent, thickening agent and stabilizer in food. The classical application is giving the jelly-like consistency to jams or marmalades, which would otherwise be sweet juices. For household use, pectin is an ingredient in gelling sugar (also known as “jam sugar”) where it is diluted to the right concentration with sugar and some citric acid to adjust pH. In some countries, pectin is also available as a solution or an extract, or as a blended powder, for home jam making. For conventional jams and marmalades that contain above 60% sugar and soluble fruit solids, high-ester pectins are used. With low-ester pectins and amidated pectins less sugar is needed, so that diet products can be made. Pectin can also be used to stabilize acidic protein drinks, such as drinking yogurt, and as a fat substitute in baked goods. Typical levels of pectin used as a food additive are between 0.5 – 1.0% – this is about the same amount of pectin as in fresh fruit.

In medicine, pectin increases viscosity and volume of stool so that it is used against constipation and diarrhea. Until 2002, it was one of the main ingredients used in Kaopectate, along with kaolinite. Pectin is also used in throat lozenges as a demulcent. In cosmetic products, pectin acts as stabilizer. Pectin is also used in wound healing preparations and specialty medical adhesives, such ascolostomy devices. Also, it is considered a natural remedy for nausea. Pectin rich foods are proven to help nausea.[citation needed]

Yablokov et al., writing about the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, quote research conducted by the Ukrainian Center of Radiation Medicine and the Belarussian Institute of Radiation Medicine and Endocrinology with the conclusion that “adding pectin preparations to the food of inhabitants of the Chernobyl-contaminated regions promotes an effective excretion of incorporated radionuclides”. The authors report on the positive results of using pectin food additive preparations in a number of clinical studies conducted on children in severely polluted areas, with up to 50% improvement over control groups.[10]

In ruminant nutrition, depending on the extent of lignification of the cell wall, pectin is up to 90% digestible by bacterial enzymes. Ruminant nutritionists recommend that the digestibility and energy concentration in forages can be improved by increasing pectin concentration in the forage.

In the cigar industry, pectin is considered an excellent substitute for vegetable glue and many cigar smokers and collectors will use pectin for repairing damaged tobacco wrapper leaves on their cigars.

Pectin is also used in jellybeans.

{Information courtesy Wikipedia}