Pectins, also known as pectic polysaccharides, are a family of complex polysaccharides that contain 1,4-linked α-Dgalactosyluronic residues. Three pectic polysaccharides, homogalacturonan, rhamnogalacturonan-I and substituted galacturonans, have been isolated from primary plant cell walls. Pectin is not a homopolysaccharide however and has rhamnopyranosyl residues inserted in the galactosyluronic backbone at 1 to 4% substitution. Pectic polysaccharides are characterised with complex highly branched polysaccharides and along with pectic functional groups. Pectic has a molecular weight of 60 – 130,000 g/mol, which is dependent on the origin and extraction conditions. Pectin occurs naturally in most citrus fruits such as apple, oranges, pears, strawberries, cherries, grapes, plums and guavas.
Raw materials used for the production of Pectin are dried citrus peel or apple and sugar beet pomace. Pectin is separated by addition of hot dilute acid with the raw materials. Initial pre-treatment of dilute acids with the raw material leads to the low esterified and high quality product. After extraction process, pectin loses its branching chain length and soluble in the solution. Pectin extract is concentrated in vacuum condition and the pectin product is precipitated by adding Ethanol or Isopropanol solution.
Pectin is used as a gelling agent, thickening agent and stabilizer in food products. It is used as a gelling agent in a wide range of fruit based products such as fruit jellies, marmalades, yoghurts, desserts, bakery products and fruit jams. It is used in the production of jam products by achieving the desired texture, limits the formation of water layer on top of the surface and even distribution of fruit composition in the fruit jams. Pectin is used as a stabilizer in juice based drinks and acidic protein beverages to improve the mouth feel and pulp stability.
Pectin is used to favorably influence cholesterol levels in blood. Pectin has been effective in removing lead and mercury from the gastrointestinal tract and respiratory organs. Pectin is also used to reduce the rate of digestion by immobilizing food components in the intestine. Moreover, it is used as a carrier material in specific drug delivery systems.