It seems like home canning and preservation has made a bit of a resurgence. Preparing your own food allows you to control what is in it and how it is processed. One of the best ways of preserving excess fruits is by making jelly, jam, and preserves.
Distinguishing between jams, jellies, and preserves may confuse some, though. The terms are rooted in an old-fashioned process that was necessary before the arrival of modern refrigeration. Keep reading and we will explain the varieties of canned fruit spreads.
Why Make Fruit Spreads?
Not everything in a canning jar made from fruit is a jam, nor is it strictly a jelly or preserve. Jelly, jams, and preserves contain different amounts of fruit and sugar, and have very distinctive textures.
The differences between jam and jelly can be illustrated by the humble PB and J. While you can put jam on that peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it fails to have the smooth spread ability of jelly. So then, what are preserves?
Traditionally, all the fruit from a season had to be eaten or preserved sin ome way or it would rot. Drying was a popular method of preservation, as was salting, but resulted in very different foods and flavors. Preserving food kept it longer and you could enjoy strawberries in winter when none were available.
Over time, making fruit preserves became a delicacy. If you’ve ever gone to a state fair, there will be numerous varieties of fruit preservations for judges to taste and award ribbons of excellence. Today, you can find fruit spreads with notes of herbs, tea, flowers, and even wine or liqueurs.
How are Jams and Jellies Different?
Jelly is made of the juice of fruits which has been strained to remove any solids. It is usually made with gelatin to give it a bit of springy texture. It also usually has a higher percentage of sugar but less per weight fruit. Visually, jelly is clear.
Jam, on the other hand, is packed full of bits of fruit. It has less of a gel-like texture and a bit more heaviness. Jam starts life as pulp or puree that has sugar and sometimes acid-like lemon juice and pectin. Experts recommend a combination of 45 percent fruit to 55 percent sugar for the perfect jam.
In spite of the differences between jam and jelly, both are used as spreads or in baking.
What are Preserves?
Distinguishing between jams, jellies, and preserves may seem trivial but it’s important to foodies and those state fair judges. Preserves contain more fruit than jam or jelly. Essentially, preserves are from whole cut up fruit and have very little gel-like consistency. This is cooked down with some sweetener and is quite chunky.
Little to no pectin is required in preserves, as it has a naturally thick texture already. Preserves are excellent in baking and cooking and contain more authentic fruit flavor than jam or jelly.
Any of the three are excellent on toast, but it’s your preferred texture and subtle flavor that will determine which is your favorite.
What's the difference between jam, jelly and preserves? The truth about fruit spreads
Get ready to jam out, toast fans. Or would you rather have jelly in your belly?
Aren't they basically the same thing, anyway? Kinda . but not really. If you've ever wondered what the real difference is between jams, jellies, marmalades and other fruit spreads, here's what you need to know.
Fruit spreads are a delicious and classic part of any breakfast (and they're great for lunch, dinner or desserts, too!). But what really distinguishes a jam from a jelly or a marmalade from a preserve? Whether you enjoy Bonne Maman marmalade on a fresh baguette or a classic like Smuckers grape jelly on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it's important to know what you're eating because different spreads have different textures and different sugar contents.
According to the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University, all jams, jellies, preserves and marmalades are all based on four basic ingredients, though some, such as added pectin (most fruits have varying levels of pectin already) can be swapped or eliminated depending on the recipe.
The most important part of a fruit spread? You guessed it. Fruit! The fruit you choose gives spreads their flavor and adds varying levels of sweetness and textures.
What is Jelly?
One of the most common fruit spreads is jelly. It is made by extracting fruit juice and combining it with sugar and pectin to thicken up the consistency. If you are considering serving breakfast at your restaurant or hotel, you will want to offer jelly to your guests. Here’s a list of characteristics that sets jelly aside from the other types of fruit spreads you might find.
- Colored, translucent spread
- Does not contain fruit
- Has a thicker consistency than jam
Popular Recipes with Jelly
Jelly is an easy additive that can make any recipe sweeter. It can be used in a marinade to help flavor meat or be added as a topping to different foods. For recipe inspiration, check out these ideas.
- Jelly and Yogurt Parfait
- Crockpot Jelly Meatballs
- Jelly Roll
This Is the Difference Between Jam, Jelly, and Preserves
It's peanut butter's partner in crime and the ultimate dessert filling, and it pairs perfectly with toast. But when it comes to choosing your fruity spread, do you pick jam, jelly, or preserves? Did you ever wonder what sets the fruity toppers apart? We did, which is why we spoke to a few experts to discover the difference between jam and jelly and their close cousin, preserves.
"Jam begins with fresh fruit that's cooked until it breaks down into the consistency of a sauce," Einat Mazor, Owner & Chef at Extra White Gold gluten-free flours and mixes, tells us. "It is a much thicker spread than jelly, and is made from chopped, crushed, or puréed fruit, and sugar. Pectin—a water-soluble fiber that occurs naturally in most fruits, with the highest concentration in the peel or skin—is also added to reach a thicker consistency," she says, adding that jams have more body to them.
What's more, jam typically contains fruit pulp. "High-pectin fruit such as lemons, apples, cranberries, and currants will set well once the fruit and sugar have been boiled and the pectin is activated. You may need to add commercial pectin to lower-pectin fruit such as blueberries, ripe cherries, apricots, and strawberries."
"Jelly is a fruit spread made from fruit juice and pectin," Mazor tells us. "In the presence of heat, acid, and sugar, the pectin helps the mixture thicken and gives jelly (as well as jam and preserves) their spreading potential. After the initial cooking, jelly is strained through a muslin bag or 'jelly bag' to remove bits of fruit pulp," which explains why jelly looks more transparent than its spreadable relatives. Jelly is the smoothest out of all three spreads, and its flavor is sometimes overpowered by the gelatin, Claudia Sidoti, Head Chef and Recipe Developer at HelloFresh, tells us. "That's why preserves are often used in cooking or baking to bring back the fruity flavor."
Preserves are a thick fruit spread made from fruit cooked with sugar, Mazor says, adding that preserves require large pieces of the fruit, or the whole fruit, unlike jams and jellies. That's what lends preserves their differentiating, rustic texture. "Preserves use most of the fruit and have smaller pieces of chopped fruit mixed with sugar to retain the freshness. They're then mixed with a syrup or jam to hold them," Sidoti says.
Verdict: What's the difference between jam, jelly, and preserves?
"Jams, jellies, and preserves all contain the same ingredients, but the main difference is in how you process the fruit," pastry chef Allison Osorio, who helms the dessert program at Otium restaurant, says. While jelly has the smoothest texture of them all, jams are a bit thicker, and preserves boast the most body, thanks to their chunky fruit pieces. Preserves use the least amount of pectin since you're working with the larger pieces of the fruit, Osorio says, adding another interesting distinction: "Marmalade is the same as a preserve, but is a term only used for citruses."
At the end of the day, it all depends on your preferences. If you prefer a smooth consistency, go for jelly. If you're more into a thick strawberry spread on your PB&J, buy a jam. And if you're looking for a more chunky mouthfeel, opt for preserves or an orange marmalade.
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Preserves contain the most fruit on the scale. Fruit is either chopped into large pieces or even cooked whole in the case of fruits like strawberries, cherries, or blueberries. Since preserves are so chunky, they’re the closest thing to real fruit as possible. Sometimes preserves are held together with a light syrup, but other times it’s more like jam in consistency.