Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Discovery of pectin

The preparation of fruit jellies was carried out long before the discovery of pectin. However, the first information on water soluble substances having a strong gelatinizing effect, and present in fruit, was given by Vauquelin in 1790. He showed that the expressed juice of tamarinds and other fruits solidifies, when left at rest, to a transparent jelly, which may be purified by draining off the juice and washing.

Pectin was first isolated in 1825 by Henri Braconnot, though the use of pectin for making jam and marmalade was known long before. He defined pectin as the gelatinous principle in fruit that gave fruits the ability to form jellies when boiled with sugar.

Pectin structure
Braconnot recognized that sugar and the proper pH were necessary for the reaction, and he mentioned that he had to add a small amount of acid “to break up the pectates” when making his jellies. Braconnot derived the term ‘pectin’ from the Greek word πηκτικός meaning “to congeal or solidify”.

Modern usage confines the word ‘pectin’ to a series of polysaccharides based on poly - α- (1-4) galacturonan.

However the first recorded commercial production of pectin extract was in Germany in 1908 after the process spread to the US where Robert Douglas obtained a patent in 1913. However in 1930s, pectin was commercially extracted from dried apple pomace and citrus peels.
Discovery of pectin