Is it a jam or a jelly? Is it a conserve or a preserve? What’s the difference between all these things?
There are all sorts of ways to preserve food and within these methods, there are what appear to be very similar preserves that are called different things. When you are new to preserving you may not know what you want to make unless you compare it to a commercial product that may have a brand name. Also, depending on where you are in the world preserves may be called different things from somewhere else.
Let’s clear all this up and answer “what is the difference between a jam and a jelly” as well as a few more things.
The Difference Between A Jam & A Jelly
The real difference between a jam and jelly is the texture and contents.
- Jam is made with all the fruit which is cooked so the jam is left with small pieces of fruit or mashed fruit.
- Jelly is made with just the juice of a fruit, having all the fruit solids strained out, and tends to be clear.
The similarities between the two are that they are spreadable, sweet, and have a gel-like consistency thanks to the pectin in the fruit.
Both are preserved fruit and will have a long shelf life provided they have been canned in a hot water bath. To find out about the shelf life of homemade jams and jellies take a look at this article.
How Is A Jelly Made?
Jellies are made by cooking all of the fruit with a splash of water. Cooking the fruit releases the juice, flavour and pectin we need to set the jelly.
Once cooked the fruit will be pulpy with a lot of liquid released into the pan. This mixture is then strained through a jelly bag for several hours which removes all the solids leaving you with just the juice of the fruit. The juice is then boiled with sugar until a gel forms and then added to jars and canned.
What Is A Fruit Preserve?
Fruit preserves are a similar consistency to jam. Fruit and sugar are cooked together and a gel forms to make the preserve set and spreadable.
Fruit preserves are most commonly made with whole fruit, whereas jams use chopped fruit. Preserves try to keep the fruit intact and are not mashed in the way that jams are.
Preserves tend to be berries or smaller fruits because larger fruits tend to have to be chopped to fit into jars.
What Is A Conserve?
Fruit conserves are confusing because many commercial examples you can buy in the shops are simply jams.
It may be that conserve is more of a marketing term to make jam sound a little more sophisticated.
A way to differentiate conserves from jams might be that conserves typically combine different fruits and contain spices, nuts, and dried fruits to make them a little more unique.
What Is A Fruit Curd?
Fruit curd, the most popular being lemon curd is a spread that uses fruit juice, eggs, butter, and sugar. The consistency of curd is spreadable and most of the thickening that occurs comes from the eggs rather than pectin like in jams and jellies.
Depending on your recipe fruit curds are best kept in the refrigerator and used right after making. Alternatively, they can be frozen for up to a year and maintain their consistency when thawed.
What’s Fruit Cheese?
Fruit cheese refers to the consistency of this preserve and not that it is a mixture of fruit and cheese.
A fruit cheese combines fruit, sugar and lemon juice and this is cooked down to a really thick consistency. The consistency of fruit cheese is quite firm and when set can be sliced.