How to Use Pectin to Thicken Sauces

Difficulty level: easy

When a soup, sauce, or stew turns out a little thinner than you had imagined, there is absolutely no need to panic. There are simple, quick fix methods to salvage a perfectly good, but watery, soups, stews, and sauces. Thickeners are powders or liquids used to thicken sauces without adding any 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 easily available as commercial pectin, in both liquid and powder form.

Step one – Pre-thickening preparations

Make sure that you skim off any excess fat from the top layer of the sauce before you add the thickener. Removing the fat will become much harder, if not impossible, after you have added the thickener.

Step two – check the brand necessary

Check the recipe you are using for your sauce to check if it includes instructions on how to thicken it. If it calls for a specific brand of pectin, make sure you use that same brand. It is not a good idea to substitute one pectin brand 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 calls for liquid pectin. Some of the newer recipes will give you specific directions on how to use the pectin, while older ones might not.

Step three – using the pectin

Mix the right ingredients for specific brands according to the instructions on the label. Some brands might require acid, and varying amounts of sugar to set properly, while some might not need any sugar. Check the instructions before you add the pectin to make sure you do the right thing according to your brand.

Steps for adding liquid pectin

1. Add the liquid pectin slowly, one teaspoonful at a time, when the sauce is almost done in terms of your recipe directions. Wait to see how much that thickens the sauce, before adding more.

2. Continue adding small increments of liquid pectin, until you sauce is as thick as you would like.

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

Tips and Warnings

In most cases, 2 tablespoons of liquid pectin has the same thickening effect as 4 teaspoons of powdered pectin, so if you are substituting, measure it out accordingly.

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

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