How to use pectin to thicken sauces

Difficulty level: easy

When a soup, sauce or stew turns out a little thicker than you imagined, there is no need to panic. There are quick and easy methods to salvage perfectly good but watery soups, stews, and sauces. Thickeners are powders or liquids that are used to thicken sauces without adding fat or changing the taste and flavor. Pectin is one of these thickeners, a high-fiber carbohydrate that can be found in various fruits. It is readily available as a commercial pectin, both in liquid and powder form.

Step one: pre-thickening preparations

Make sure to remove excess fat from the top layer of the sauce before adding the thickener. Removing the grease will be much more difficult, if not impossible, after you have added the thickener.

Step two: check the necessary brand

Check the recipe you are using for your sauce to see if it includes instructions on how to thicken it. If you require a specific brand of pectin, be sure to use that same brand. It is not a good idea to substitute one brand of pectin for another, because each brand and type of pectin has different properties. Check your recipe for the type of pectin you need. As a general rule, recipes for jams and preserves usually call for powdered pectin, while recipes for jellies and sauces call for liquid pectin. Some of the newer recipes will give you specific instructions on how to use pectin, while the older ones might not.

Step three: use the pectin

Mix the appropriate ingredients for specific brands according to the directions on the label. Some brands may require acid and varying amounts of sugar to set properly, while others may not need sugar. Check the instructions before adding the pectin to make sure you are doing the right thing according to your brand.

Steps to add liquid pectin

1. Add liquid pectin slowly, one teaspoon at a time, when sauce is almost done according to recipe directions. Wait to see how thick the sauce is before adding more.

2. Continue adding small increments of liquid pectin, until sauce is as thick as desired.

3. Remove from the stove and let cool for about 5 minutes. This will bring the sauce to its final consistency. If the sauce seems too thick, just add a little water and smooth to thin it out.

Tips and Warnings

In most cases, 2 tablespoons of liquid pectin have the same thickening effect as 4 teaspoons of powdered pectin, so if you substitute them, measure accordingly.

If there are lumps in your thick sauce after it cools, you can blend it in a food processor or blender to make it smoother.

Liquid pectin contains sulfite. This can cause allergic reactions in anyone who has a sensitivity to sulfite.

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