Agricultural Research Service scientists are currently testing ways to extract pectin from sugarbeets using microwaves to heat them in acidified water in pressure-resistant containers. The traditional method involves conventional heating of fruit peels.
The traditional method requires an hour to process a batch of fruit peels. Using the new method, pectin can be extracted from sugarbeets in 10 minutes.
Pectin is used as a gelling agent in jelly foods and in premixed yogurt to give it a smooth texture. It is an imported high-value product that costs about $6 to $8 a pound. Cutting the extraction time may reduce this cost opening the door for domestic pectin production for the first time in decades.