Kathleen Purvis Q&A

Cooks' Q&A: Jam-setting sugar and powdered pectin are almost the same

kpurvis@charlotteobserver.comSeptember 17, 2013 

Q: I have a recipe for fig paste which calls for “500 g jam setting sugar” to be used with “12 just-ripe figs, pureed.” Just what is “jam setting sugar” and what might make an acceptable substitute?

A: Ever heard the old joke that America and England are two countries separated by a common language? Jam-setting sugar is England’s version of America’s powdered pectin. The difference is that jam-setting sugar is a mixture of pectin and sugar.

So how would you translate your recipe without that product? It’s hard to give exact measurements because different types of figs vary widely in size. But 500 grams of sugar is roughly 2 1/2 cups, and that would be about the amount of sugar needed for 1 to 2 pounds of figs and a package of powdered pectin, such as Sure-Gel.

You don't necessarily need pectin to make figs set, since the fruit may have enough. But fig paste is a very thick version of fig preserves, a thick, chunky fig mixture. The texture would be similar to the filling in a Fig Newton. Adding pectin would help you get a thick consistency.

Email questions about cooking and food to Kathleen Purvis at kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com.

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