The main usage of pectin (vegetable agglutinate) is as a gelling agent, thickening agent and stabilizer in food. The classical application gives the jelly-like consistency to jams or marmalades, which would otherwise be sweet juices. Pectin also reduces syneresis in jams and marmalades and increases the gel strength of low calorie jams. For household usage, 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 used as a solution or an extract, or as a blended powder, for homemade jams. For conventional jams and marmalades that contain above 60% of sugar and soluble fruit solids, high-ester pectins are used. With low-ester pectins and amidated pectins less sugar is needed to produce dietary products.
Pectin is used in confectionery jellies to give a proper gel structure, a clean bite and to confer a delicious flavor release. Pectin can also be used to stabilize acidic protein drinks, such as drinking yogurt, to improve the pulp stability in juice-based drinks and as a fat substitute in baked goods. Typical levels of pectin used as a food additive are between 0.5 and 1.0% – this is about the same amount of pectin as in fresh fruit.
Until 2002, it was one of the main ingredients used in Kaopectate a medication to combat diarrhea, along with Kaolinite. It has been used in gentle heavy metal removal from biological systems.
In cosmetic products, pectin acts as stabilizer. Pectin is also used in wound healing preparations and specialty medical adhesives.
In ruminants' 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 forages2 can be improved by increasing pectin concentration in the forage.
In the tobacco industry, pectin is considered to be an excellent substitute for vegetable glue.
Pectin may be used for repairing damaged tobacco wrapper leaves on the cigars, which may be an interesting experiment for cigar smokers and also for the collectors.