Pitted: Pectin

illustration of pectin
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

This story is a component of the feature “Seasons of Preserves: Stone Fruit,” which is part of a four-part series on preserving fruit at home called “L.A. in a Jar.”

If you know the slightest thing about jam and jelly, you’ve probably heard about pectin, which is a chemical in plant cells’ walls. In the case of making jam, it breaks down and drains from fruit when heated and combined with an acid, then dissolves in the liquid of the jam and firms the texture of the jam when it cools, similar to how gelatin thickens liquid. But, I won’t be discussing that beyond this entry. While it is necessary to understand when it comes to making jelly and marmalade, it’s not worth taking up space in your brain just yet to make stone fruit jam.