Fruit Pastes

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

fruit pastes are one of the oldest confections. Extended cooking of seasonal fruit with varying amounts of sugar produces thick, stiff, long-keeping preserves that have been used by most cultures over many centuries—as medicines, travel snacks, sweets, and desserts, and as accompaniments to both sweet and savory foods. Set with pectin and dried by long cooking, fruit pastes generally hold their shape outside a mold or package and are usually firm to the touch. The degree of firmness varies, and fruit pastes range from thick but spreadable butters and soft jellies that melt in the mouth to hard, chewy leathers, with a range of consistencies in between. Besides the length of cooking time and thus the degree of drying, the texture of fruit paste is dependent on the added sugar content: the higher the concentration of sugar, the less water the fruit jelly supports, resulting in a stiffer end result. Confectioners manipulate the sugar content of fruit pastes from little or none to equal parts, depending on the degree of tartness and stickiness required in the final product.