Pectin vs. Gelatin for Making Jam

My Raspberry Freezer Jam

Christina of Ramey Ranch Review (check out her post on Making Mozarella) writes:

Pectin for Making Jam: I have heard pectin and gelatin content are about the same. While I’m not a vegetarian or anything, I do try to feed my family as wholesomely as possible. Animal waste products are not high on my healthful list! There are some alternative (vegetarian) jam pectins out there, but they are pricey. We live on a ranch and grow most of our own fruits and veggies. I preserve lots of food every year. I am looking for an economical alternative to pectin since I make 12 + batches of freezer jam per year. I would prefer to not cook and can the jam. I did find a product from Mary Jane’s Farm I heard a rumor you could use it for jam. I’m going to try to find out. If you find anything on this topic, please let me know.

Way to go, Christina, on growing the majority of your own fruits and veggies! That has got to be a huge amount of work in and of itself, not to mention the preserving. Your family is undoubtedly reaping the health rewards of your labors!

Pectin is a vegetarian product found in the cellular structure of fruits and veggies, and often sourced from citrus peels or apples. It can be pricey, particularly in small retail packages. In bulk from Azure Standard, a 1lb bag costs $42. 90; this makes about 320 cups of jam.

Gelatin, on the other hand, is an animal product, and most gelatin is made from pork carcasses. Chicken broth and beef broth (made from bones/carcasses) are marketable products, but pork broth doesn’t have much of a market, so this “waste” product is made profitable in the form of Jello, jams, and jellies.

Although this is a waste product of factory slaughterhouses (and that’s a disgusting thought with their sick animals and unsanitary practices!), gelatin in general is a very healthful and nourishing food; this is the main source of nourishment in bone broth (read Bone Broth: Body Builder) and gelatin can even be purchased in capsules as a nutritional supplement for joint problems.

So to find a clean source for gelatin . . . I thought briefly about whether you could make your own from bone broth; gelatin powder must be just dehydrated bone broth. However, I can’t imagine going to that amount of effort (and I didn’t find anything coming up when I googled making your own gelatin powder). I did find some other options, though: certified organic porcine (pork) gelatin, which is more expensive than the pectin above. The bulk size of 2lbs of powder should gel about 200 cups of liquid (perhaps it would be less in making jam?), with a current price of $53.10.

Some people prefer to avoid all pork products, organic or not, in which case beef gelatin is available, and quite a bit cheaper at $7.25 for 1lbs. This is from Azure Standard, a supplier of natural foods, so it is unclear to me if this is gelatin sourced from naturally raised beef or from conventional/factory farming, but a call to their customer service should clarify this. There is no information given on how much would be required to make jam, but I would think it would be 1:1 with the porcine gelatin. If this truly is naturally sourced gelatin, I think this would be an excellent, healthful addition to homemade jam, and an economical option too!

Chill Over Powder

I have no experience with this, although it sounds really interesting. I wonder what’s actually in it? I wouldn’t be surprised if Mary Jane is marketing her own brand of fruit pectin, similar to the one above, in which case you just need to compare the yield/price against the price at Azure or another bulk supplier of natural products.

[Christina writes back: I found out what Chill Over Powder is made from. Ingredients: Agar-agar kanten, an odorless powdered sea vegetable with superior gelling qualities—a MaryJanesFarm exclusive.]

Read Raspberry Jam for my recent experience on using both pectin and gelatin. Good luck in all your summer preserving!

0 thoughts on “Pectin vs. Gelatin for Making Jam

  1. My grandmother and I had talks one day about “What did you do before….” I wish I had paid more attention now when we were discussing the old time canning technigues….but I am pretty sure that she thickened her jams with apple peelings. I wonder if the Foxfire series covers this topic?

    1. Of course…they couldn’t just run down to Fred Meyer and buy a package of pectin, could they? Apple peels must have a lot of pectin in them, as that is a source of the stuff you get in the box. Of course nowadays apples have a lot of pesticides on their skins, unless they are organic. There is so much wisdom for living that we have lost, isn’t there?

  2. About Kanten, (agar)
    it is a sewweed derivative & is redily available in Macrobiotic food sections and NOW Foods. I have been using it for over 40 years, makes dynamite “gelatin” desserts…other seaweeds do too…the Irish use Irish Moss, Good for Mary Jane for marketing it – but it is not an exclusive…
    I also use Kudzu – not quite as jello’y, more like a pudding type thickener…there are lots of plant based thickeners around…experiment!
    Finally – we should never eat commercially processed pigs, their life was a terrible one…

    1. Hi, I have muscadine grapes that I’d like to make into low sugar jam using chill-over powder. Since you have been using agar for so long, do you have a recipe that might work for me?

  3. Hi. I get my pectin at an Amish bulk food store. It’s called Clear Jel.
    For 4.00, I get enough for 9 batches of jam…If you bought Sure-Gel, it would cost you approx. 27.00 or more for those 9 batches.
    Spices are also much more inexpensive at the Amish Bulk food store.

  4. Gelatin is not a waste product. Gelatin is probably the safest product in the world that goes through processing steps that deliver the purest form of any product. That is why gelatin manufactured by the leader manufacturers are used in pharmaceuticals and many food products you eat on a daily basis and also provided to hospital patients in their diets. It is one the of the best and safest product you could provide to a child and family member and has outstanding amino properties and excellent source of proteins for active lifestyles. Use gelatin anytime you can. Its good for you.

  5. Most old farms had “Quince Bushes (trees)” when I was young. Quince is a furry apple-like fruit which adds little or no flavor, but was used as a natural source of pectin to make jams. Many jams were quince/strawberry or quince/red raspberry etc…

  6. I just bought 10 lb of Dutch Jell Pectin from for $73.98. This should make about 80 batches of jam (2oz per batch).

  7. i wanted to try this from mj,s farms and i make a lot of elderberry jelly and some times it sets ,saometimes too much and sometimes not at all. this stuff is so good ,i had perfect jelly every time with less sugar and less cooking and perfect finished products. i love this stuff.

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