Sugar, acid and pectin content of fruits

strawberry bush

It seems like we’re having a bit of a jam week around here.

I guess it’s only natural when the world around us blooms in an exponential kind of way. Here we’ve had a rather unusual month of May. Lots of sun. Lots of rain too. And because the temperatures rarely get above 20°C, once they will – perhaps after mid-summer – fruits will suddenly surround us.

I thought it would be nice to have a table to compare sugar, acid and pectin content of some of these fruits. Of course, those three factors will change depending on the degree of maturity of the fruits or their variety, but it’s a good starting point to adapt your favourite jam recipe for different fruits.

Should you add more sugar? Less pectin? More acid?
Hopefully this table here will help in answering your questions.

How to use the table?

Let’s take melon for example.

I currently don’t have a melon jam recipe. I do however have a killer strawberry jam one.
According to the table, I could make melon jam using my strawberry jam recipe, only I would need to add more citric acid at the end of the cooking process, as melon have an average pH of approximately 6, while strawberries’ pH is closer to 3.4.

Fruits with high pectin levels and low pH.

In the case of fruits with high pectin levels and low pH – like lemons, limes, cranberries, blackcurrants, oranges, gooseberries, grapefruits, mandarines or red currants – you probably don’t need to add much acid at all, and certainly don’t need to add extra pectin; as the fruits themselves offer the perfect conditions to form a gel (which for pectin are: sugar, acid, heat).

A quick note on citrus.

The flesh of citrus fruits isn’t high in pectin, while the zest and pips are.

What is pH anyway?

pH is a unit of acidity/alkalinity. A pH of 7 is considered neutral; above that it’s called alkaline or basic, and below that it’s called acidic.
It’s a bit of a shortcut, but what we fundamentally care about, here, is that the lower the pH the more acidic a fruit is. As you’ll notice in the table most fruits have an acidic pH, but only those with a pH ranging from 2-3.5 are empirically sharp.

Sugar, acid and pectin content of selected fruits

 %sugaraverage pHpectin level
Apple133.5medium
Apricot94low
Blackberry84.2medium
Blackcurrant102.8high
Blueberry113.2low
Cherry144low
Cranberry42.5high
Fig154.8low
Gooseberry112.9high
Grape164medium
Grapefruit63high
Guava73.6very low
Kiwi143.5very low
Lemon22high
Lime12high
Litchi174.8very low
Mandarin133high
Mango114very low
Melon76low
Orange112.8high
Passion fruit113low
Peach93.8very low
Pear103.8low
Persimmon145.4high
Pineapple133.5low
Plum113.4low
Raspberry73.4low
Red currant63.2high
Rhubarb13.1low
Strawberry73.4low

11 thoughts on “Sugar, acid and pectin content of fruits

  • Federico Ciani June 6, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    This os an excellent and useful tool! Thanks!

    • fanny June 12, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      Ciao Fede :) Happy you like it! How are you? xx

  • Arturo June 9, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Your Post reminds me of when I made a purple tomatillo jam. Very rarely will you see ripe tomatillo’s normally they are picked green for mexican sauces. I started picking them out one hot summer and figured that they are really a reletive of the gooseberry so why not make jam! Worked out very nice :)

    • fanny June 12, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      That sounds absolutely amazing. I’ve never had a ripe tomatillo jam before. Certainly very curious about it now! x

    • EL December 25, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      Hi Arturo:

      Tomatillos are not related to gooseberries (other than that they are plants and are fruit). They are related to cape gooseberrys (or groundcherries) and both are members of the solanaceae family which includes tomatoes, potatoes and peppers as well as tomatillos and cape gooseberries. On the other hand, your jam worked and I happen to make an absolutely wonderful savory “jam” out of tomatoes. So making jam from these “vegetable” fruits works and gives us delicious products to enjoy!

  • maya June 10, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    so informative!!!! thank you!
    i love how you’ve done this chart.

    • fanny June 12, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      Thank you Maya, I’m glad you’ve found it helpful! x

  • Dee Spilner November 15, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    You have a chart listing sugar, acid and pectin amounts in fruit. Persimmon is listed, but it is not clear whether you mean asian persimmons or the persimmons that are native to my state of Virginia. I am interested in the native variety.

  • Hayley June 18, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Please would you share your strawberry jam recipe? I am a little (OK, a lot) on the hopeless side when it comes to jam making, every time I try to make strawberry jam it oxidises (I think) and goes an awfully unappetising grey colour and makes me so sad :( it seems as though it should be such a simple process and yet I can’t seem to crack it! Xx

  • Pixxe August 14, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Useful information, though I’m wondering what the source of this information is.

    • Fanny September 24, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Hi Pixxe, thank you. The sources I’ve used are varied. From old notes from my university classes to google searches. I’ll add then to this post.

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