Day 230. Expecting pectin

In March 2013 on March 30, 2013 at 9:36 pm

quince jelly

I was expecting pectin in yesterday’s brew of poached quinces.

Today’s adventures in the kitchen delivered on that front.

For the record, my trusty Harold McGee tells me pectins are long molecules found in the cells of fruit, and are especially prevalent in quinces. After chopping and cooking, the pectins are broken up and released into cooking liquids where they remain dissolved and barely discernable.

In my own kitchen, after the quinces were peeled and chopped, we poached for 7 hours in total, and then turned the oven off and left the quincey pan to cool slowly overnight.

What started as this:

quinces cooked 1

Looked four hours later like this:

quinces cooked 2

And 20 hours later like this:

quinces cooked 3

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that anthocyanins are the reason behind the colour change (see Day 197. Ripe for the Picking).

While the majority of the juices were scooped out and stored with the fruit for future eating, a small volume of liquid remained in the pan.

quince juice

Here’s where the pectins kicked in. With the application of some gentle heat, we soon generated a thick gooey liquid. The thickness comes about when pectin subunits find each other and are able to bond to create a gel-like material due to the presence of sugar, the right level of acidity and reduced water volume.

quince juice cooked

When we poured our quince gel into a glass jar, it cooled and solidified so successfully that we could invert the jar and not lose a drop.

quince jelly


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