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Re:Sugar and Pectin

> 1. Sometime ago someone on this list mentioned the use of pectin as a
> jelling agent for "jello" type deserts and thickening salad dressings
> and etc. They said the directions were on the package of "Pomona"
> pectin. I have not been able to find this brand or any further info
> about the use of pectin for other than jams and jellies. Any help or
> reference would be appreciated.

I think "Pomona" brand pectin is different in that you can get away with
using less sugar in it to make things gel. Pectin requires 2 things to gel:

1) Somewhat acidic conditions, to reduce the negative charges on the pectin
molecules, so they don't repel each other.

2) Enough water-attracting sugar molecules to get water out of the way.
Pectin molecules would rather bond with water than each other, so you need
the sugar to compete and use up the water. Certain pectins somehow get
around this, like the Pomona kind. Anyone know how?

I use agar-agar to make gelled fruit desserts -- the trick is to get the
correct porportions of form of dry agar you have, so you don't get
unpleasantly solid results. Using a starch as well also helps. And I've
heard guar gum thickens salad dressings, though I prefer mine fluid.

> 2. Of all of the vegan sweetener alternatives which have you found to
> be best for use, economy and easy availability? Honey is not an
> alternative for us. I have been told that white sugar made from sugar
> beets is vegan as the process to make it does not require bone char
>as   does cane sugar manufacture.

Hmm, I personally use fructose because it doesn't jerk your insulin level
around like glucose in sucrose (table sugar) does.  It's sweeter than
sugar, so you use less, and it's dry/powdered, so it doesn't scr*w with the
dry/liquid porportions the way various syrups do. I fear it's an ADM
product (though fortunately I dislike sweets, so I don't patronize ADM too
much), and I have some vague idea that it's made from corn syrup. I don't
know the official vegan ethics of corn syrup, aside from the intrinsic evil
of ADM (I'm eco/autoimmune vegan).

Then there's things like sucanat: much less processed, so you'd avoid the
bone-char whitening process, and it's dry and thus preserves wet/dry
porportions. Not terribly economical tho...

I find the syrups like rice syrup irritating to use, since I often start
with non-vegan recipies, and altering too many ingredients can get pretty
odd. OTOH, syrups contain long chains of sugars (that what makes them
viscous), and these hold water and keep things from drying out so fast. So
I use them sometimes, though I find the results mixed... And boy are they
expensive, considering how much it takes to make things taste at all sweet!