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Different Kinds of Fruit Preserves

Jam, Jelly, Preserves: What's the Difference, Anyway?

Jam, jelly, preserves: I'll admit to having used these words interchangeably in the past. For the longest time, I thought that if mashed-up, cooked fruit came in a jar, it was essentially all the same thing. But as it turns out, there is a difference between these fruit spreads. Here's a basic breakdown.

  • Chutney: A relish of Indian origin that incorporates cooked fruit, spices, and herbs.
  • Fruit butter: Whole or halved fruit (often unpeeled) is cooked down with sugar and/or spices, and then pressed through a sieve or a food mill. Contrary to popular belief, there is no butter involved. The name refers to the spreadability of the resulting fruit. Also, it is differentiated by the fact that no gelling agent is used.
  • Jam: Defined by cooked fruit purees, or fruit that has been chopped up and cooked with sugar and pectin until thickened. Some differentiate it from preserves by having no significant pieces of fruit.
  • Jelly: Fruit juice that has been sweetened and jelled.
  • Preserves: Large pieces of fruit are cooked and jelled. The texture is not as smooth as jam.
  • Spread: A jam or preserve made without sugar.
  • Marmalade: Preserves that incorporate the flesh and the zest from citrus fruit.
Photo: Nicole Perry
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