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Jam vs. Jelly vs. Preserves: A Canning Glossary

A few years ago, my husband and I took up canning.  We started off with jars and jars of marinara sauce that we made to use up tomatoes – tomatoes basically took over our yard due to using our compost.  Then came a variety of salsas where we made good use of some of the delicious peppers in the backyard.  Then came jellies, jams, and preserves, thanks to local farms and our very own raspberries!  

I began reading up on the types of things you can can and what the difference is between jelly, jam, preserves, etc.  Here’s what I learned:

Jelly usually does not contain pieces of fruit, as it is made by cooking fruit juice, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice.

Jam is made from crushed or cut up fruit, sugar, and sometimes lemon juice or pectin.  Jam doesn’t typically contain chunks of  fruit and can be pureed when making it.  Our first jam was a peach-nectarine jam, following this peach jam recipe.  We wound up pureeing it towards the end, as it still came out kind of chunky at first.

Preserves are made by cooking fruit and sugar together.  Preserves tend to have bigger chunks of fruit.  Our first batch of preserves came by accident, because we had intended to make apple-maple jam.  It came out the wrong consistency, and we had accidentally made preserves!

Conserves are also sometimes called whole fruit jam.  It’s made by stewing fruit and sugar.  You can also add raisins or nuts.

Marmalade is like jelly, but it has flesh and peel of fruits in the jelly.  It’s usually citrus based.

Chutney is a relish of Indian origin made with fruit and/or vegetables. Chutneys often consist of chopped fruit or vegetables, vinegar, spices, and sugar.  We made a batch of green tomato chutney to use up some more green tomatoes that we had to pick before a potential first frost, and it was awesome!

Fruit butter is fruit pure or pulp, sugar, lemon juice, and spices, cooked slowly to a smooth, butter-like consistency.  Whole pieces of fruit (such as apples) are put through a sieve or blended.

And now I am hungry!  I can't wait to start gardening this spring...and canning this summer!