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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
    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
    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
    Apr 1 at 7:51
  • For later ... sosa.cat/wp/wp-content/uploads/Pectines_ENG.pdf
    – AnoE
    Apr 2 at 9:15

1 Answer 1

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As threatened in the OP, I have gone on to experiment a bit. These are the percentages (by weight) of my recipe right so far:

  • Maltodextrin: 36%
  • Fructin: 7%
  • MCT Powder: 9%
  • Salt: daily recommended dose of some electrolytes like Magnesium, all in powder form
  • Water: 33%
  • Pectin: 8%
  • Lemon Juice Concentrate: 7%

(The numbers are nothing magic, just what my last making of the recipe turned out. I am making single-serving recipes, and measuring tenths of g, but obviously that makes everything a little bit error-prone as well.)

Regarding temperature: I mix everything well, bring it to boiling and keep it there for about 5 minutes give or take, then just ladle it on a board covered with regular non-waxed brown baking paper.

With the pectin and lemon, it gives a very nice result concerning taste, mouthfeel and practicality while eating. Specifically, it is jelly-like enough to not require biting, and hence not leaving sticky bits between my teeth.

The consistency is so that it can easily be cut into portions as required, and while it still is very sticky, it stays firm enough.

Usability during running is medium-OK'ish... I cut individual servings, wrap them in cling-foil, and the challenge then is just to get it out of the foil into my mouth without touching any of the gooey mess with my fingers. This "delivery mechanism" could be much improved, but is probably getting a bit off-topic here. ;)

If I do find a combination with even better properties, I'll update.

(Oh and credit where credit is due: the original recipe without pectin is GCN's "Rocket Fuel").

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