During the time I was writing my first cookbook, I was something of a liquid pectin fan girl. I liked its ability to create a natural, not-too-firm set. However, as time has gone by, I’ve become more of an equal opportunity pectin user. I regularly use regular powdered pectin, Pomona’s Pectin, and even sometimes boost the set of my jams with some grated apple or ground lemon peel. I also make preserves without any additional pectin at all (thanks to the size of the batches, there’s not a drop of extra pectin at all in the next book).
I get a couple of pectin questions a lot. The first is, how do you choose the kind of pectin you use in each recipe? Unfortunately, I don’t have a really great answer for that one. I typically just reach for whatever’s closest in the kitchen. There’s no true formula. I do tend to use powdered pectin when I’m working with lower pectin fruits, but if there’s no powdered pectin around that day, I reach for the liquid. If I don’t have either kind of traditional pectin, I’ll use a splash of calcium water and a little bit of pectin from a box of Pomona’s Pectin.
The second thing I’m frequently asked is, how do you swap powdered pectin for liquid? Happily, I have a more concrete answer for this one. You use two tablespoons of powdered regular pectin for every packet of liquid pectin. The difference in usage is that instead of adding the pectin at the end of cooking like you do with liquid, you whisk the powdered pectin into the sugar before you combine it with the fruit. It responds better when you cook it the entire time and you avoid the risk of pectin clumping that can appear if you try and add powdered pectin at the end of cooking.
I’ve not come up yet with a perfect formula for converting full sugar recipes to lower sugar ones that use Pomona’s Pectin. The only tip I have about that pectin is that I always use about half as much as the recipes in the packet call for. I find that if you follow their instructions, you end up with a VERY firmly set jam. As someone who prefers a softer set, I find that using half as much gives me a satisfying outcome.
Thank you so much for posting this! (and perfect timing!) I’m just getting ready to make your strawberry vanilla jam, and thought I was going to have to run to the store to get some liquid pectin. So happy to know that I can swap it out for the powdered pectin sitting in my pantry!
I’m with you on using half of the pectin the recipe calls for, no matter how much the pectin pamphlet might freak me out about looming SET FAILURE. 😉 I prefer a softer set, too. I’m so excited for your new cookbook!
No matter what pectin you use, you need to test for jelling on a cold saucer. Start with less than is recommended and the go with the stiffness that you prefer.
I use Pomona pectin exclusively since it comes from oranges and will jell on calcium (rather than sugar for the apple based pectins). The I only add the sweetness that I want in my jams and jellies. That usually means no sugar for blueberries, applies, or figs; a little for strawberries and peaches; and enough to taste for anything else. YRMV.
Canoe Creek Community Kitchen
I’ve been wondering the opposite…how do I take a non-pectin recipe, and use pectin to increase my set success rate and shorten cooking time?
Mary, I’ve had success kind of “merging” the two methods. I’ll take a non-pectin recipe, and start to cook it down with very little sugar (so I can add the sugar and pectin later, as is called for with most pectins). Then, I cook it down where I like the consistency (usually it’ll look “jammy” but definitely wouldn’t pass any set test), then add the sugar and pectin following the instructions for the pectin I use (I usually use Pomona’s, so I would add the amount of pectin called for using the amount/type of fruit I started with, combined with the smallest amount of sugar, so that I could use more sugar to start with) and then follow instructions regarding how long to boil after pectin has been stirred in, etc. Then can and boil as usual. Hopefully that makes sense.
Living overseas I have a hard time accessing many ingredients like liquid pectin. I normally bring pomonas from the states but agree regarding reducing quantities of pectin. I recently made sour cherry jam as per pomonas pamphlet and the texture is horrible, impossible to spread ( resembles gumdrops with whole cherries). Any idea on a ratio for subbing pomonas for liquid pectin? Thanks, Cynthia
Great post, Marisa! Happy jam-making 🙂
does omitting pectin from recipes that call for it do anything aside from effecting the set? guess i’m wondering if i am making it unsafe for canning…
I love to find a good clearance sale on pectin and will use what I find. I, too, prefer jam with a little bit softer set. When it spreads nicely on toast, it is perfect!
I prefer using a low- or no-sugar needed pectin to the liquid, which always seems to call for more sugar in the recipes. I’m bummed that I have not found a recipe for lower-sugar jalepeño jelly. I use 1.5 pouches of liquid pectin instead of the called-for two, but it’s so sweet. Also, any suggestions on making or buying organic pectin?
Rosie, I’m not sure that anyone out there is making organic pectin. But Kaela has a couple posts on how to make it yourself. Look here and here.
Is there any reason not to adjust the sugar in a recipe to taste?
I know it may be weird, but I don’t like most of my jams super sweet (I always have my husband taste too so that I can be sure to balance the sweetness for his taste). I like to use thinly sliced lemons in my jams but have been trying out Pomona Pectin this year.
The only pectin I’ve ever used is Pomona’s, and I remember thinking after my first batch of jam (blueberry) that it was incredibly sweet and that I couldn’t imagine using any recipe that would call for more sugar. I’ve not had any problems with any batches being too stiff; the stiffer ones softened to very spreadable if given a little time out of the fridge. The directions for including honey haven’t worked for me, though, and I use honey only in no-pectin preparations now.
I wish this had been published one day earlier! I just made your rhubarb vanilla jam and had only powdered pectin on hand. After reading your post on it a couple of times and knowing I actually had 1.5 times the amount if rhubarb called for in the recipe I went ahead and added six Tbs of powdered to the jam. It’s worked beautifully but I think I just got lucky! I’ll be bookmarking this post anyway, for all my future projects.
What a helpful post! I googled everywhere looking for the ratio and here you are spelling it right out. Do you think the same applies for jellies? I’ve had my eye on this recipe for jasmine tea jelly from BHG but I usually only have liquid pectin on hand and don’t use pectin at all for fruit preserves. I did actually find some powdered pectin in my canning stash yesterday, but I think it’s a couple of years old. Does it expire?
Marisa, I’m wondering about the safety of only using some of the Pomona’s. I pretty much only use their pectin, and I have noticed that it has a very firm set, but I assumed that was part of what made it more shelf-safe. Do you think using less than recommended will affect the shelf life?
Liz, pectin does not play a role in shelf stability. Sugar is the primarily preservative when it comes to jam. So jams made with less sugar don’t last as long, but reducing pectin has no impact.
Thanks for the post. I’ve only used Pomona’s pectin so far (pretty new to canning), and I like it but yes sometimes it does gel a little more solidly than I’d like. To clarify; do you only halve the pectin and use the same amount of calcium water, or do you use half of both pectin and calcium water?
I did experiment myself this weekend, using Pomona’s pectin with your blueberry jam recipe instead of liquid. It turned out yummy!
I halve both the amount of pectin and the amount of calcium water.
There is a new cookbook out there — Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin. I just ordered a copy. Last year I had no trouble with liquid pectin. This year I had a box that would not set anything!
This is a good summary of how to use pectin – thank you very much.
I use almost exclusively pomona’s pectin. I convert your recipes by using how much calcium water and pectin they call for for the amount of fruit you use, using their amount of sugar(or in most cases honey), and your extras (although I usually use their amount of lemon/lime if it is more) It has worked for me, although indeed the set can be a bit firm which I don’t mind.
So I was about to start some blackberry jam, but have only the light pectin; the recipe calls for the liquid pectin. Should I just look for a lower sugar jam recipe? I love your site Marisa, and have learned so much here. In advance, thanks for your help.
You could probably swap in the light pectin for the liquid. Or you can go over to Ball’s pectin calculator and use their proportions. http://www.freshpreserving.com/tools/reference/pectin.aspx#
Thanks so much for your speedy response! Much appreciated. 🙂
I made damson plum jam and it did not set. Not too sure if I had enough sugar to the quantity of fruit I had would it help if I added more sugar and powder pectin and boil until thickened or just add liquid pectin and process. To 5 cups on jam what ratio of sugar would I use. Thank you
How much sugar did you use? Did you follow a recipe? I can’t really give you guidance without knowing more about what you did.
I appreciate all the commentary here and this very helpful and informative website. I too have exclusively used Pomona’s low-methoxyl pectin very successfully for years. I have followed the recommendations for the amount of pectin and calcium water and have been pleased with the results – neither too firm nor too soft. This year is the first time ever that I had two batches of concord grape jam turn out runny after processing them. Earlier batches were fine. My sister-in-law suggested I may have just gotten a “bad batch of pectin”. Is there such a thing?
I cannot imagine skimping on the amount of pectin and calcium water when trying to gel concord grapes, but I can imagine it for blueberries because the blueberries naturally contain a great deal of pectin in their skins. Black raspberries similarly have a lot of natural pectin and probably don’t need as much Pomona pectin to be added to make jam. I find strawberries, red raspberries and peaches do require the full amount of Pomona pectin recommended. We always use a medium amount of sugar – inbetween the minimum and maximum amounts recommended. There are clearly a number of factors to take into consideration in this gelling process!
Typically it does not. But I have had a few boxes several years expired and did not have them set. So who knows? I just reprocessed them and added another tablespoon of more pectin… I think that you will have to look at the fruit. I have been able to use less sugar with my Raw Organic Cane and it comes out with a lovely flavor.
I’m getting ready to make the cranberry wine jelly out of the recent Ball Book, that uses cranberry juice coctail and burgundy wine. And liquid pectin. Do you think it would be okay to sub out the liquid for the Classic in this case? I would have to make another trip to the store if not, and frankly, I just don’t want to when I have an entire jar of the Classic at home. Thanks!
Yes. Use two tablespoons of the Classic pectin for every packet of liquid pectin. Whisk the pectin into the sugar before adding the sugar to the juice and wine. After that, proceed as normal.
Well that didn’t work. It didn’t come even close to jelling, it’s just syrup. Should taste good on pancakes or ice cream or ham, maybe, though, so I guess it isn’t a total loss.
I’m confused by these amounts. Everything else I see says that 1 oz. liquid = 2 Tbsp. powdered (classic), and that a packet of liquid = 3 oz.. So that would mean that one packet of liquid would equate to SIX Tbsp. powdered.
Am I omitting something from my calculations, or is there some other reason you suggest a different amount?
This is simply the swap I find most effective and is simply based on my own use and experience. Any more powdered pectin and I feel that the set is too firm.
If you are using Ball pectin these are the equivalents from the website:
Ball Classic Pectin – 6 tablespoons = 1 box regular pectin
Ball Low or No Sugar Pectin – 3 tablespoons = 1 box low sugar pectin
So your calculations are right on the money.
Gotta say – I get a little frustrated when someone refers to a measurement of liquid pectin as “a pouch” or “a box” of liquid pectin. Some pouches are 6 ounces and some are 3 ounces. When someone refers to a “pouch” of liquid pectin, which one are the referring to?
All the pouches of liquid pectin I’ve ever seen have held 3 ounces. There are typically two pouches per box, for a total of 6 ounces per box. It might be different in other countries, but here in the US, a pouch of pectin is assumed to mean 3 ounces.
Thank you so much!
I am canning muscadine jelly. I only have the no cook pectin now. Can it be used if i am cooking the berries? I am afraid to try the non-cooked. Also, how can you tell if it is jelled enough after they have sealed? I made several quarts with sure jel. You can tell it jelled but can’t tell how stiff.
I don’t recommend using the no-cook pectin for muscadine jelly. That pectin is really only appropriate for freezer jams.
I bought some Great Lakes Gelatin and I was wondering how I could make grape jelly out of that, using grape juice, can anyone please help? I have a quick recipe from food.com that I wanted to try, which calls for 3 oz of liquid pectin. Thanks in advance for any assistance.
Unfortunately, you can’t use gelatin in jelly making. You need pectin, not gelatin.
“I have a more concrete answer for this one. You use two tablespoons of powdered regular pectin for every packet of liquid pectin.”
Uh, w/o the size of the “packet” of liquid pectin, this formula is useless. Kinda weak concrete . . . 😉
Gary, in all my years of canning, I have only ever seen liquid pectin sold in one size, which is why I phrased it like that. However, to make things clearer, the formula is two tablespoons of powdered pectin for every 3 ounce packet of liquid pectin.
I’m just getting ready to make my first jelly ever (honeysuckle), and I’ve never seen liquid pectin. So I needed this information, too! Thank you!
I have a recipe that calls for 1.75 ounces of powdered pectin. But all I have is liquid in 85 ML packets. I’m unsure how to convert this.
85 ML is the equivalent of 6 ounces, which is how much you find in two packets of liquid pectin. Essentially, you’ll get pretty much the same set power from your package of liquid pectin as you will from 1.75 ounces of powdered pectin.
Your post and all the comments is making my head spin. I want to make Simple Bites’ honey sweetened strawberry jam using liquid pectin. You said that 2 pouches of (sugar-free) liquid pectin gives me pretty much the same set power as 2 pouches of (sugar-packed) powdered pectin. Did I not get that right?
My question is : will my jam spoil because of the lack of sugar?
Sophie, you didn’t read the post correctly. Two pouches of liquid pectin has the same set power as four tablespoons of powdered pectin, not two pouches of powdered pectin. However, just so you know, neither kind of pectin has any additional sugar.
The question of whether your jam will spoil is entirely separate from the pectin question, though. Because that recipe is relatively low in sweetener, it won’t last as long on the shelf as a higher sugar preserve. However, as long as you did the boiling water bath, it should last at least a year on the shelf.
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. The jam is so good it won’t last more than a year on my shelf anyways.
I consider dextrose to be additionnal sugar, don’t you?
Sophie, you are right, dextrose is a form of sugar. It is used in powdered pectin to help prevent clumping (I’d forgotten). It sounds to me like you should look into Pomona’s Pectin, because it doesn’t contain sugar in any form and allows you to get a set with honey and other alternative sweeteners. Honestly, that Simple Bites recipe shouldn’t actually work, because regular fruit pectin requires more sugar (whether in the form of granulated sugar or honey) to activate.
Thank you for all the info. Ah! Wish I could get into your brain!!!
I have allergies to some high pectin fruits (apples and pears) and would like to make my own pectin from citrus to use with some of the food in jars recipes — my question is how much home made pectin would I use instead of the packaged powder or liquid?
I found a recipe for citrus pectin here: http://foodpreservation.about.com/od/Preserves/r/Homemade-Citrus-Pectin.htm but I also saw that some of the recipes in the food in jars book says to tie lemon seeds in cheese cloth instead of using pectin. Would using lemon seeds in cheesecloth instead of pectin work for the vanilla rhubarb jam with earl gray?
Kim, I honestly don’t know for sure how to make the substitutions that you’re asking for. However, my best advice would be to look into using Pomona’s Pectin, because it is made from citrus and so would avoid your allergy.
Good to know. Thanks for the tip 🙂
Thanks for making this post! I’m making the rhubarb earl grey vanilla jam today and got the wrong kind of pectin at the store.
Perfect. Thank you so much for this info!
Are the Ball pectins the same as Certo or Surejell? If I have a recipe that uses ball liquid, can I use Certo instead? Or Ball powder switched with Surejell? Thanks!
I’d like to make your Cantaloupe/Vanilla Jam from one of your books (can’t remember off-hand which one it’s in). It calls for liquid pectin – could you perhaps advise as to whether or not I can substitute Pomona’s and what amount I’d need and any adjustments that might need to be made the the recipe?
Using Pomona’s Pectin is an entirely different style of jam making and so I have no idea how to advise you to proceed with that particular preserve. So sorry!
Thanks for this awesomely informative post – I’m saving it for reference! Just out of curiosity, although it’s sort of the opposite of what you’re talking about here, is there any food-safety reason I couldn’t follow a jam recipe but SKIP the pectin? I rarely use jam because I can rarely eat bread anymore, and gluten-free bread is just sad and expensive. 🙁 But I do eat yogurt and oatmeal fairly often. These applications don’t require my fruit preserves to have any set – in fact, firmly-set jam doesn’t stir into yogurt very nicely. So is there anything wrong with just leaving out the pectin step? It would then be like a chunky fruit syrup, which my dad loves the idea of for putting on ice cream.
Substitution Info found on pickyourown.org.
“Converting from Liquid Pectin to Dry Pectin
If your recipe calls for 1 pouch of liquid pectin, you can use dry pectin instead. The average dry pectin comes in a box with a 1.75 ounce (49 grams) packet. This is the same as 1 pouch of liquid pectin. If you have bulk dry pectin, 1 packet is slightly less than 1/2 cup in volume. So, a little less than 1/2 cup of dry pectin equals 1 pouch of liquid pectin.”
I also read that bulk dry pectin should be mixed with the sugar first to prevent clumping.
hallo, I live in Australia and I’m wanting to make some freezer jam, I’m wanting to know if ordinary dry pectin will be just as effective as freezer pectin, if not what substitute can I use. I thank you
Unfortunately not. Ordinary dry pectin needs to be cooked in order to set. Only freezer pectin will be able to thicken without any cooking.
I just made Passion Fruit Jelly. Decreased sugar to 6 l/2 cups with two pouches of pectin. It was not as sweet as the first batch because i increased the fruit juice and lessened the water. Could I use unsweeted liquid pectin and still get it to set perfectly as it does not and still have some sweetness.
I’m not familiar with this recipe, so I can’t advise. Additionally, all liquid pectin is unsweetened.
I am rather a novice jelly maker, but our pomegranate tree is exploding with fruit, so I just bought some Certo and some Sure Jell at Walmart and got started. I have tried four different recipes with those pectins with mixed results. I think I made a huge mistake today, however. I followed a recipe for pomegranate jalapeno jelly that I had used before successfully, but this time, I mistakenly put in the sugar before the pectin. I still brought both additions to a full rolling boil, it sealed well after the jar bath, but It is like juice in the jars right now. This recipe was with the regular Sure Jell (yellow box), but I don’t want to add too much more sweetness when I redo it. What should I do? It has a lovely flavor. I used a combination of jalapeno and serrano peppers for an extra kick! I don’t want to waste it. Please help!
I want to make freezer jam (strawberry) today and only have the liquid that I have never used. Can I? and if so how much of the packet do I use?
If you want to make classic, uncooked freezer jam, you need to wait until you have pectin designed for freezer jam. The liquid kind won’t work. If you want to make cooked jam and freeze it instead of canning, just follow the package directions.
Does playing with the sugar content and amount of Pomona’s pectin effect the taste and set only or does it impact the safety of the final product? I want to try a couple of fruit jam recipes with less sugar and also try a beer jelly recipe with less sugar. I’m willing to risk a failed experiment as far as flavor and set in the name of science and finding the right recipe as long as it is still safe.
Is there a way to test the acidity to ensure safety?
Sugar doesn’t make something safe or unsafe for canning. It does serve as a preservative, so things made with more sugar will last longer, but reducing the sugar won’t impact the safety.
I accidentally mixed classic pectin and instant (freezer) pectin. 1/2 – 1/2. Is there anything I can do now? I’ve read not to cook the instant pectin. Is this true? Please help!
Suzy, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve not run into this issue before.
Pressure Cooker Canning: what can you tell me about it, is it as good , is it easier, new canner ,just bought one
Hi . Please answer this question. I just made a raspberry habanero jam and I used instant pectin instead of classic. Can I still water can this or do I need to put it in the freezer ?? Ugg
You can still can it, but the texture is not going to be the same as you get from classic pectin.
So…I have a recipe for Hard Apple Cider Jelly that I was hot to make. It called for Pamona’s Pectin. I purchased 2 boxes(single ones) from Amazon. Then…after I was already into the cooking of this jelly…I noticed that my recipe called for 5 teaspoons of calcium water, and 5 1/2 teaspoons of the pectin. Way too expensive for my wallet! And why would they package in this manner? Just venting. I ended up using Ball low sugar pectin instead. Wow.
That should only be about half a box’s worth of Pomona’s Pectin. Each box contains enough calcium powder to make a least a cup, and I believe the packet has at least 4 tablespoons pectin powder in it.
Hi, love your post BTW. I have been experimenting with hands and jellies. All the recipes are way too sweet for my taste. Can I cut back on sugar and by how much approximately to have it still set properly? I’m using liquid pectin and can I use this even if the recipe calls for dry?
Here’s my post on reducing sugar: https://foodinjars.com/2015/02/canning-101-can-reduce-sugar/
Here’s my post on swapping pectin: https://foodinjars.com/2013/07/canning-101-how-to-substitute-pectin/
My recipe calls for 6 oz of liquid pectin I bought some Sure-Jell dry pectin how much do I use to make up for the 6 oz of liquid
A packet of liquid pectin contains 3 ounces. Your recipe calls for 6 ounces, which is two packets. According to the instructions above, that means you’d use 4 tablespoons.
Have you heard about a difference in pectin usage at altitude? I can’t seem to get my jams to set unless I use 2-3 times the amount asked for in a recipe. I’m at 7000 ft and it’s desertlike here, if the amount of humidity changes anything.
It’s probably not the pectin that’s the issue but the fact that you don’t reach as high temperatures when at altitude. You typically have to considerably lengthen your cooking times when above 1,000 feet in elevation in order to get a good set.
I have this jelly recipe that calls for one tbsp of pomona pectin and 4 tsp of calcium water, but want to use surejell, which I can buy locally. Not sure what amount to use of the box of surejell. The whole box? Using the low sugar variety.
I have a dilemma. I can not get Pomona’s pectin in my area without ordering online. I have fruit (black persimmon) I need to make into jelly. I have only found two recipes. One calls for Pomona’s and the other calls for no or low sugar pectin. Can I use regular pectin… Ball…. to still make my jelly?
You can certainly try it, but I can’t guarantee the results of a jam made with a different kind of low sugar pectin, when I’ve developed the recipe with Pomona’s Pectin.
I do have a question about substituting powdered for liquid pectin.
I used your spiced plum recipe that cals for 2 three-ounce packets of liquid pectin for 4# of plums. Based on this post, I used the powdered pectin (4 tablespoons) following the directions of when to add the calcium water and the pectin.
It came out VERY THICK — too thick. I’ll use half next time, but I am curious if I understood you correctly regarding the substitute ratios. Please advise. Thank you.
Ah. Pomona’s Pectin and powdered fruit pectin are not the same thing. I did not include swapping directions for Pomona’s Pectin in this post. I typically only use 1-2 tablespoons of Pomona’s Pectin for average sized batches of jam.
When making watermelon jelly this year I have experienced a couple of problems. The jelly looks like it has separated in the jars with a heavier concentration of pigment in the lower half and what looks like a syrup in the upper half. Upon opening, it has a gritty texture. I tried 3 different recipes. They each used powdered pectin. Yes, I boiled until it reached 220 degrees. Yes, I added the pectin at the beginning. Only 1 of the recipes seems to have the consistency and look of an actual jelly. Need help fast! Watermelon is sitting in the fridge waiting to be processed and it won’t last long.
Having no understanding of the recipes you used, I can’t begin to advise you.
I’m going to use liquid pectin in a recipe that calls for powdered. I appreciate your advise to use one package of liquid pectin for 2 tablespoons of powdered. How many tablespoons are in a standard package of powdered pectin like Sure Jell or Certo?
Typically you get between four and five tablespoons of powdered pectin in a standard box package.
I have a recipe that calls for 3 ounces of liquid pectin, but liquid pectin is sold out in every store I have checked. How much powdered pectin should I substitute for 3 ounces of liquid pectin?
One pouch of liquid pectin is 3 ounces. I use 2 tablespoons as a sub.
Hi Marisa, I made the sweet cherry balsamic jam from this site, and the flavor was TO DIE FOR! The only issue I had was that the Pomona’s made it somewhat grainy. If I just omit the Pomona’s altogether, will it still be safe to can? Do I need to add some lemon juice to compensate for the lack of calcium water? I don’t mind if it’s under set — I typically just swirl it into yogurt anyway. Just want to make sure it’s safe to can! Thanks in advance!
You can certainly omit the pectin. It will be more of a sauce than a jam, which is fine for yogurt. And no need to add lemon juice unless you feel it needs some to balance the flavor.
Thank you for for the blog on how the substitute pectin, I found it very helpful
Can you make this a freezer jam?
I’m not sure that I understand the question. This is a post on how to substitute pectins. Could you restate your question?
I don’t use Pamonas pectin, but the recipe calls for it. How do I convert to regular pectin? Thank you.
You are better off finding a different recipe. Pomona’s Pectin is quite different from more traditional pectins, so you’re likely to have a disappointing outcome if you try to swap them.