What's the Difference Between Jams, Jellies, Preserves, & Butters?

Submitted by Mrs. Millers on Tue, 11/26/2019 - 10:41am

Mrs Miller was busy in the kitchen this week, and the result was loaves and loaves of delicious warm homemade bread.  When it's in its finest form, just out of the oven, these thick slices of homemade goodness are brought to perfection with butter and a tasty Mrs Miller's Homemade Jam...or Jelly...or...Butter...or Marmalade...or Preserve.  How should one decide?  And what's the difference anyway? Spend any time stocking jars of jams & jellies in a retail setting and it won't be long until a curious shopper asks you the question "what is the difference between a jam and a jelly?"  I'm glad you asked. 

Jellies, Jams, Preserves, Butters and Marmalades are all made with fruits and sugar, with variations in the fruits and cooking processes that give them their unique special attributes...and names.  Fruit comes with its own pectin so as it is heated, its water is reduced and its consistency becomes more firm.  Some fruits contain less pectin than others, so in many cases pectin is added to achieve the proper texture.  The distinct characteristics of each category ends up being determined by how much fruit ends up in the final product, how large its pieces of fruit are, how long it is heated, and the firmness of its final set. 


Jellies are the firmest, smoothest, and most transparent of the lot.  They are made by taking fruit and straining out its juices and adding sugar.  Because portions of its fruit have been removed, it is likely that pectin will be added to the juices and sugars to achieve a proper consistency.  Because of the straining process the fruits go through, you won't find any chunks, seeds, or course textures in the jelly family.


Jams are the most common, and in our opinion, the tastiest option we will be discussing.  Jams are created by heating chopped, or diced fruits with sugar.  Jams are coarser and thicker in texture and contain more of the actual fruit pieces than the jellies do.  They are rich in flavor and have a spoonable texture perfect for topping homemade bread.  


Next we have the butters.  Fruit Butters are made with the thick pulp of the fruit.  Sugar, and in many cases, other spices are added, and the mixture is cooked down to a thick spreadable texture.  The spices and texture make it easy to tell the difference in taste and appearance between butters and jams & jellies.


Preserves are a version of jams with a heavier proportion of fruit to sugar, with the pieces of fruit itself within the product being larger than in the case of jams.  In many cases whole fruits are used in preserves.  The texture of preserves may not appeal to folks who enjoy the texture of a jelly, or the more finely ground, pureed fruit in jams.


Finally we have Marmalades.  Marmalades are basically preserves made with citrus fruits.  In Marmalades, the whole fruit is used, peels and all.  The fruit is sliced up, and cooked with sugar, resulting in a chunky, citrusy, preserve of sorts.  But because they're made with citrus, and with the rinds and peels, marmalades get their very own category. 

There you have it...lots of great options in lots of different textures and tastes.  There's no wonder Mrs Miller's produces over 70 varieties, in order to satisfy all the varying taste buds out there.  So grab a slice of homemade bread, spread some butter on it, and reach for your favorite jam..or jelly..or butter...or preserve...or marmalade.