Texture degradation of fruits and vegetables during thermal processing is partly due to pectin depolymerization. In this contribution we investigate the influence of pectin properties (degree and pattern of methoxylation) and processing conditions (pH 2.0, 3.0, 5.0 and 7.0; temperatures of 80 up to 110 degrees C) on pectin degradation rate constants. Pectins with different degrees and patterns of methoxylation were prepared and heated. the extent of acid hydrolysis, P-elimination and demethoxylation was assayed as a function of treatment time. As the degree of methoxylation and pH decreased, beta-elimination rate constants decreased while acid hydrolysis rate constants increased. Demethoxylation rate constants were minimal at pH 3.0 and increased both at lower and higher pH. Reaction rate constants were not considerably influenced by the pattern of methoxylation. All reaction rate constants increased with increasing temperature. As P-elimination rates are reduced by competing demethoxylation, both rate constants were compared. The ratio of these reaction rate constants showed no trend with pH. However, an increase in degree of methoxylation or temperature resulted in a more pronounced increase in P-elimination rate constants than in demethoxylation rate constants. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.