Both gelatin and pectin are carbon-containing compounds. These compounds occur widely in living organisms; thus, it is very important to study their properties and nature. Moreover, these two compounds are thickening agents used commonly for making food products such as jam and jelly.
What is Gelatin?
Gelatin is a mixture of peptides and proteins derived from animal tissues. It is translucent, colourless and flavourless. We can derive it from collagen that is taken from animal tissues. Therefore a synonym for gelatin is hydrolyzed collagen. However, this hydrolysis is irreversible. During this hydrolysis process, the protein fibrils in collagen convert into small peptides. The molecular weight of the produced small peptides falls in a broad range.
When moist, gelatin is a viscous liquid (we can define it as “gummy”), and when dry, it is a brittle solid. Commonly, we use this compound as a gelling agent for food, medications, vitamin capsules, etc. The substances containing gelatin are “gelatinous substances”. When considering the amino acid content of gelatin, it is similar to that of collagen, and it has predominantly 19 amino acids including glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. These three amino acids build up about 50% of the material.
What is Pectin?
Pectin is a structural polysaccharide that is present in plant cell walls and in some algae species. Though it occurs naturally, we can also manufacture it as a white to light brown powder. We can extract pectin from citrus fruits. The major application of this material is in the food industry as a gelling agent for jams. Pectin is rich in galacturonic acid.
Common sources for this material include pears, guava, apple, oranges, gooseberries, etc. ; however, soft fruits such as cherries also contain a small amount of pectin.
What is the Difference Between Gelatin and Pectin?
Gelatin is a mixture of peptides and proteins that derive from animal tissues while pectin is a structural polysaccharide that is present in plant cell walls and in some algae species. Therefore we can say that the key difference between gelatin and pectin is that gelatin is a mixture of peptides and proteins whereas pectin is a polysaccharide. Moreover, when moist, gelatin is a highly viscous liquid, and when dry, it is a translucent, colourless solid sheet. Pectin, on the other hand, occurs as a white to light brown powder. Another difference between gelatin and pectin is that pectin is of plant origin while gelatin is of non-vegetarian origin.
Summary – Gelatin vs Pectin
Both gelatin and pectin are gelling agents. The key difference between gelatin and pectin is that gelatin is a mixture of peptides and proteins, whereas pectin is a polysaccharide. When used as a food product, it’s important to know that pectin is of plant origin while gelatin is of animal (non-vegetarian) origin.
1. Flutto, L. “PECTIN | Properties and Determination.” Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 2003, pp. 4440–4449., doi:10.1016/b0-12-227055-x/00901-9.