Low-Sugar Pectin Substitutes

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2013

Some of our recipes call for Sure-Jell low-sugar pectin. Will other brands work?

We use low-sugar pectin in these recipes because it is capable of providing a subtle gel without the large amount of sugar required by regular pectin, and we recommend Sure-Jell for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes simply because it is the most available brand. But we were curious to see if other brands would measure up.

We found two brands: Ball RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin and Pomona’s Universal Pectin. Both are carried at the hardware store with the canning supplies. Like Sure-Jell, the Ball product is a mixture of powdered pectin and dextrose (a filler), along with additives. When we tested it against Sure-Jell using a one-for-one substitution in both the strawberry pie and the sorbet, we found it completely acceptable.

Pomona’s couldn’t be directly swapped into our recipes. This powder is pure pectin with no dextrose added, so using the amount called for in our recipe would add more pectin than we intended. What’s more, its jelling power is activated by a calcium powder that must be added separately in a prescribed amount depending on the type of fruit and the amount of sugar in your recipe. If you want an easy one-for-one substitute for low-sugar Sure-Jell, low-sugar Ball RealFruit is the one to pick.

Sure-Jell and Ball can be used interchangeably, but Pomona's is tricky to substitute.