Pectins are polysaccharides present commonly in dicotyledonous and non-grass monocotyledonous plants. Depending on the source, pectins may vary in molecular size, degrees of acetylation and methylation and contents of galacturonic acid and neutral sugar residues. Therefore, pectins demonstrate versatile gelling properties and are capable of forming complexes with other natural compounds, and as a result, they are useful for designing food products. This review focuses on the structure-related mechanisms of pectin gelling and linking with other natural compounds such as cellulose, hemicellulose, ferulic acid, proteins, starch, and chitosan. For each system, optimal conditions for obtaining useful functionality for food design are described. This review strongly recommends that pectins, as a natural biocomponent, should be the focus for both the food industry and the bioeconomy since pectins are abundant in fruits and may also be extracted from cell walls in a similar way to cellulose and hemicellulose. However, due to the complexity of the pectin family and the dynamic structural changes during plant organ development, a more intensive study of their structure-related properties is necessary. Fractioning using different solvents at well-defined development stages and an in-depth study of the molecular structure and properties within each fraction and stage, is one possible way to proceed with the investigation.
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