Saturday, July 08, 2006
Pectin is a heterosaccharide, found in the cell wall of plants. The term 'pectin' includes a number of compounds which vary in the order of the monosaccharides. Under acidic conditions, it forms a gel, most well known from its use in marmalade and other jams. In fruit it is a welcome ingredient, which breaks down during maturation to pectinic and pectic acids in the presence of the enzyme pectinose. In general, hard fruits contain more pectin than soft fruits.
In fibre plants, pectin is removed out of necessity so as to isolate the cellulose, which is the main compound in paper and textiles. Hot water is one way of removing pectin, which is why hot-water retting and boiling have been methods of the hemp farmer.
Today hot-water retting is being explored along with enzyme retting. The goal of researchers is the removal of pectin from the stem so as to produce a pure cellulose fibre, free from pectin and other substances, such as lignin.