It's easy to get confused when you first start preserving when a recipe calls for pectin. Should you use powdered or liquid and are they interchangeable? You may have decided to just forge ahead with the powdered pectin that was already in your cupboard when a recipe called for liquid. How different could they really be considering they are both 100 percent natural and derived from apples or citrus fruits.
But I would guess that you were not pleased with the final result if you swapped one for the other...and here is why.
- recipes calling for liquid pectin combine the fruit and the sugar right at the start of the cooking process. The sugar dissolves completely before the product is brought to a boil and thereby reduces the chance of any crystals forming
- combining the fruit and the sugar at the beginning gives the sugar more time to combine or penetrate the fruit. This is important because it greatly reduces the chance that the fruit will float or that the fruit and the liquid in the jam will separate.
- flavours combine fully as the sugar pulls the liquid from the fruit being used
- you can allow the fruit to macerate which replaces that air in the cells of the fruit with sugar. This also decreases the chance that the fruit will float up to the top of the jar as the jam cools.
- the final 60 seconds of cooking once the jam has reached a rolling boil after the pectin has been added is to ensure the pectin has fully and equally distributed throughout the jam and/or jelly.
- recipes calling for powdered pectin combine the fruit (or fruit juice in the case of jelly) and the pectin at the start of the cooking process. They are brought to a boil together before the sugar is added
- you may notice when using powdered pectin an increase in the jam bubbling in an unpredicatable manner. Perhaps you have even been burned by your jam when using powdered pectin. This is caused by the air bubbles still trapped in the fruit trying to escape.
- the final 60 seconds of cooking once the jam has reached a rolling boil after the sugar has been added is to ensure that the sugar dissolves completely and does not burn. You may notice jams made with powdered pectin tend to have hard crystals or perhaps they are even weepy. This is a simple side effect of sugar that has not completely dissolved.
Powdered and liquid pectin also require a different balance of fruit, sugar and acid to achieve set. So interchanging them will just end up with you chasing your tail trying to get a nice spreadable jam or jelly.