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I am experimenting with a fructose/maltodextrin/MCT powder mixture as fuel for longer running sessions. I have a good mixture which works well for me, has a nice mouth feel due to the MCT, is reasonably easy to swallow and does not give me stomach problems. But carrying it around in squeeze bottles and spilling it over myself while trying to gulp it while running is less fun. The mixture has the consistency of a thick goo.

I bought some pure pectine (made from apple if that is relevant, 100% E440) and am going to experiment with gelling my mixture, basically converting it into confectionary, so I can take it with me as-is (without a squeeze bottle) and can either bite it off, or wrap it in breakfast paper if necessary. I found lots and lots of recipes for marmalade/jelly based on pectine, but it's hard to tell which parts of those recipes are relevant for the "mechanical" working of pectine, and which are just separate concerns (i.e. food safety in the case of boiling the fruit juice...).

Wikipedia mentions that it needs to be heated - what is the relevant temperature it needs to reach to start the process (food safety concerns play no role in my application in the way they do for marmalade making)? Does it matter how fast or slow it cools down? Is it possible to freeze the end result or will that change the gelling properties after thawing?

As far as I can tell, I need to lower pH somewhat; I like my running fuel to taste sour anyways, and am using a few spritzes of lemon concentrate for taste reasons. Does pectine require some very specific acidicity for best results, or is just eyeballing it probably good enough?

While I could simply start throwing ingredients together - do you have some percentage of pectine vs. sugars vs. water that would be a good starting starting point?

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  • Certainly for thickening jam you just need some acidity, not precision. And I have some commercial pectin-based fruit jelly sweets here that use lactic acid and sodium lactate, the former at a level higher than the colours and flavourings. I use them as a reserve energy source for long-distance riding (but didn't need to open them yesterday), so I await your results with interest.
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 1 at 7:38
  • Maltodextrin will make some difference, but here's a sugar-based recipe that's very close otherwise (found by googling energy gel chew recipe vegan pectin). When I'm a bit more awake I may be capable of writing an answer, but I'm hoping someone gets there before me. That might take a few days as I've just cycled 780km in 3 days, including a 24 hour ride with no sleep.
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 1 at 7:44
  • For jam, boiling is about getting the sugar to water ratio high enough so that it sets (measured by the boiling point rising above that of water). This is the step that needs some precision. You'd need a similar boiling point, with more pectin to make it thicker, but Maltodextrin will have effects I can't predict, having not cooked with it. You might also look at thickening with corn starch (as well as pectin, or instead) - that's also a source of carbs, and a bit less hygroscopic. I've found open pectin fruit jellies to go sticky on a damp day.
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 1 at 7:51
  • For later ... sosa.cat/wp/wp-content/uploads/Pectines_ENG.pdf
    – AnoE
    Commented Apr 2 at 9:15
  • 1
    @ChrisH, I've updated my recipe significantly if you're still waiting for the results. :)
    – AnoE
    Commented Apr 28 at 13:07

1 Answer 1

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As threatened in the OP, I have gone on to experiment a bit. This is the current iteration of what I'm doing for my long runs:

Ingredients

For roughly 30g carbs, scale up as required:

  • Maltodextrin: 25.5g
  • Fructose: 5.5g
  • Water: 24.8g
  • Apple pectin (E440): 3.0g
  • Lemon juice: 1.0g
  • Corn starch

That's 2 big gummies.

Preparation

  • Mix maltodextrin, fructose and water in a cold pot.
  • Measure out the pectin separately.
  • Put the lemon juice in two egg cups or similar containers; as it is only a very small amount you may want to figure out the number of drops you need...
  • Also make sure to coat the sides of the containers with the juice, just swirl it around as well as possible.

Cooking

  • Heat the pot at medium-high temperature until it starts to simmer, then reduce to medium temperature (where it still gets hotter, but slowly). Stir vigorously, get rid of any leftover clumps.
  • When it seems to boil and doesn't want to get any hotter, add the pectin. Stir very vigorously, taking care to scrape everything off the walls and also the bottom of the pot each time you go around.
  • The mixture will become slightly thicker soon. As soon as it does, transfer to the two containers as quickly as possible. The time for this is very short, and the mass is of course extremely sticky. Two tea spoons are helpful - shovel with the one, scrape off with the other.

Cooling

  • Let the containers sit for a few minutes, until there is a noticeable "skin" on top.
  • Carefully try to flip the gummies inside the containers over - this seems to work well for me; the residual moisture from the lemon juice seems to keep them from sticking to the cups too much. If it is too sticky, stop and don't force it. This is just supposed to coat the upper side with lemon as well.
  • Let cool to room temperature, then cover and transfer to the fridge.

Using

When it's time to go running or whatever sport you're doing...

  • Put a spoon of corn starch in a tea cup.
  • Get the gummies from the fridge and swirl them around in the starch.
  • Take them out and roll them around in your hands to get most of the starch off.
  • They should be non-sticky now.

Final words

That's it. They are near perfect regarding the consistency, I can take them with me in a little plastic bag, they don't stick to each other or to my fingers. Taste seems OK for me. I'm not too happy about the sugar mass sticking to my teeth, but a gulp of water and a bit of sloshing around seems to get rid of that.

Regarding temperature: I found that measuring the temperature is not critical for me. Since I'm stirring, I just need to notice the moment when it starts to set, and that is my signal to stop and transfer them to the containers.

(Oh and credit where credit is due: the inspiration comes from GCN's "Rocket Fuel", which is more of a juice or gel than a gummy. It has no pectin, but instead MCT powder for mouth feel - quite a different result, but also recommended if you prefer that).

EDIT: Removed MCT, reduced pectin and lemon juice, added corn starch, rewrote the instructions.

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