Friday, May 11, 2012

Is It Jam Or Jelly?

What's the difference between jam and jelly? Jelly, jam, preserves, conserves and marmalade are all fruit products that are jellied or thickened to some extent.  Traditionally they contained adequate amounts of sugar to serve as a preservative agent.  The difference is in the way they are prepared, the proportions of different ingredients and the method of cooking.

Jelly is a clear product firm enough to hold its shape when turned out of the jar, but quivers when moved.

Jam is a thick, sweet spread made with crushed or chopped fruits. The pieces of fruit are very small. Jams tend to hold their shape but are less firm than jelly.

Preserves are small whole fruit (such as cherry preserves) or uniform-size pieces (such as peach preserves) cooked in a clear, slightly gelled syrup. The fruit should be tender and plump.

Conserves are jam-like products that may be made with a combination of fruits and often contain nuts, raisins and/or coconut.

Marmalades are soft fruit jellies containing small pieces of fruit or peel evenly suspended in the transparent jelly.  They often contain citrus fruit as in orange marmalade.

While not truly a jelly or jam; butters, honeys and syrups are other fruit spreads made by cooking fruit and/or juice and sugar to the desired consistency.

Fruit butters are made by cooking fruit pulp with sugar to a thick consistency.  Spices may be added.  Perhaps apple butter is the most common example.

Honeys and syrups are made by cooking fruit juice or pulp with sugar to the consistency of honey or syrup.  They are much thinner than the other spreads.

Find recipes for jams, jellies and other preserves at the PSU Food Preservation Web Site.