Ever heard the saying "Must be jam cause jelly don't shake like that?" Have you ever wondered if the the only difference between jam and jelly is the way that they jiggle? Today we will dive into the differences between all fruit spreads; jellies, jams, preserves, fruit butters, marmalade, and chutneys. One thing is for sure, life wouldn't be as sweet without these spreads for your breads!
FIRST SOME FACTS. Jam and other preserves were invented when there was a bounty of strawberries (or other fruits) so to avoid spoilage, the fruits were preserved in sugar to enjoy later during the colder months. Pectin is the main component involved in making these yummy fruit concoctions. Pectin is an indigestible carbohydrate that is found in the cell walls of most fruit; it makes everything gel and stick together.
In the U.S., approximately 1 billion pounds of fruit spreads are produced annually. It has been found through research that jelly is more popular with the kiddos and adults seem to enjoy jams more...no surprise there. We eat a lot of this stuff; the average American person will eat around 1500 PB&J sandwiches by the time they turn 18! Okay so you get it...we really love this stuff but do we really know the things that distinguish each of these yummy condiments? The main difference in all of these comes down to what cooking method is used and the final consistency of them.
I DON'T THINK YOU'RE READY FOR THIS JELLY. But with some simple facts, you could soon be extremely ready for all jellies...heck, you can even make them yourself! Jellies are made from fruit juice. Fruits are crushed and the pieces are removed, only utilizing the fruit juice. When the fruit juice is cooked with sugar and pectin guess what happens? You guessed it, it GELS=jelly. No fruit pieces can be found in jellies. The concentration and quality of fruit juice is what makes a good jelly. It is best to cook with low-pectin fruits (like berries or grapes) to make a good jelly. A jelly is the most spreadable form of all of these...hence why its called a PB&J! A jelly bag, a colander, and a cheesecloth are all you need to make a jelly at home. Spread the knowledge...and this Meyer Lemon Jelly on your next homemade biscuit!
JAM IS THE REASON WHY ENGLISH MUFFINS EXIST. Jams fit a broader category of fruit spread. Jam is made from crushed fruit cooked and mixed with sugar until the pieces of fruit are soft. The cooked fruit usually loses its shape and there is usually fruit debris floating throughout the jar.
Jam is better when made with high-pectin fruits (like apples and pears). It is usually a bit thicker and more substantially solid than jelly. It is chunky but still pretty spreadable! Get your jam on with this Blueberry Jam recipe.
PRESERVES DESERVE ALL THE CREDIT. Preserves are the mother of all these; jellies, jams, fruit butters, etc. The word preserve is sort of an umbrella term for all sorts of preserved fruit spreads. Preserves can contain large chunks of fruit or whole fruit or cut uniform pieces of fruit that is stored in its own juices, syrup, or even water. Top your warm waffles off with this Baked Rhubarb Rose Preserve...um can we say yum?!
BUTTER IS BETTER. Or any fruit spread with the word butter in it is bound to be delicious. Interestingly enough, there is actually no butter involved in making a fruit butter but it is just as smooth and spreadable as butter. While fruit jams can be chunky, fruit butters are more richer and have flavor depth. Fruit butters are cooked slowly to allow for all of the moisture to completely evaporate so the end result is a thick paste; thus they are not as clear as the others. Fruit butters are usually made with high pectin fruits such as apples, pears, and our favorite...pumpkins--try this Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter!
WITH TANGERINE DREAMS AND MARMALADE SKIES. The Beatles knew what marmalade was...do you? Marmalades are usually made from citrus fruits and contain pieces of the peel suspended in a transparent jelly. They have both a sweet and sour flavor and the rind from the citrus gives it a mild bitterness. Citrus peels have high levels of pectin so marmalades usually don't need added pectin in the cooking process. Marmalades can be good on a scone or even as a glaze on a whole ham! Put this Bourbon Bacon Marmalade on top of a burger, in place of bacon on a BLT, or even on a bagel!
SUGAR, SPICE, AND EVERYTHING NICE. Chutneys are usually spiced and are considered to be more savory than all of the other fruit spreads. Fruit or vegetables are mixed with vinegar, spices, and sugar to make this flavorful condiment that originated from India. Chutneys can be enjoyed with a variety of foods; meats, cheeses, fish, breads, samosas...literally just about anything! Pair this Apple Tomato Raisin Chutney with a juicy breast of chicken stuffed with your favorite cheese...try not to salivate just from the thought of this epic combo!