What is difference between Jam and Jelly?
Despite the confusion between the terms ‘jam’ and ‘jelly’, it is pretty certain that most us know what these intensely sweet, fruity spreads are. Many of us grew up with them and weaved fond memories around them, whether through the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich we carried in our lunchboxes or a grandmother who made jam or jelly in the kitchen with home-grown berries. Jams and jellies come in a huge range of flavours, including strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, redcurrant, mint, grape, cherry, apricot… all with their own characteristics and charm.
They are a treat we have fondly enjoyed since childhood, but do you know actually what is difference between jam and jelly?
In this article I’ll share with you:
- Introduction: What is Jam and Jelly?
- Ingredients: What is Jam and Jelly made of?
- Processing: What is difference between Jam and Jelly making? (infographic)
- History of Jam and Jelly
Introduction: What is Jam and Jelly?
Jams and jellies are sweet preserves made from sugar and fruit. Many types of fruit are used, especially strawberries and raspberries, apricots and grapes. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a classic use, but jam/jelly is also popular in yogurts, donuts, pancakes, and baked goods such as cakes and scones. Gourmet versions may be flavoured with spices such as vanilla and ginger, or alcohol such as rum.
What is difference between Jam and Jelly
While the terms jam and jelly are often used interchangeably, technically, jam contains fruit pulp and juice, while jelly contains juice only. The wording also varies from country to country. In the United States, ‘jelly’ is the more common term, while in the UK and Australia the word ‘jam’ is preferred.
Ingredients: What is Jam and Jelly made of?
The two major ingredients in jam and jelly are fruit and sugar. Jam contains fruit juice and pulp, whereas jelly contains fruit juice but no pulp. The next section explains the purpose of these ingredients and how they work together to make jam and jelly.
- Fruit (eg berries, stone fruits)
- Sugar (sucrose)
- Glucose (eg corn syrup)
- Citric Acid (eg lemon juice)
- Spices (eg vanilla, ginger)
Jams and jellies are very high in sugar, containing as much or more sugar than fruit. Sugar not only gives sweetness but acts as a preservative to prevent bacterial growth and helps the jam or jelly set properly. Low sugar jams/jellies are processed differently to prevent bacterial contamination, since they don’t contain enough sugar to preserve them.
Processing: What is difference between Jam and Jelly making?
What is difference between Jam and Jelly making?
As we have already established earlier in this article, jam and jelly are basically the same thing. The difference between jam and jelly is that jam is made with fruit juice and pulp, whereas jelly is made with fruit juice (no pulp). Therefore, the process for making both is very similar, except that when making jelly the fruit pulp is filtered to remove all solids.
How are Jams and Jellies made?
While writing my non-fiction food comic book How Food is Made: An illustrated guide to how everyday food is produced (more about the book here) I researched a ton of food science and food industry books, magazines and journals to find out how jams and jellies are processed and uncover what is difference between jam and jelly.
The following infographic (and the text in this post) is an extract from my book How Food is Made…
In making both jam and jelly, a careful balance of fruit, sugar, acid and pectin is vital. Pectin occurs naturally in fruit, some more than others, and is the key ingredient that causes jam and jelly to set. Powdered pectin, made from apple and citrus by-products, is often added when making jam/jelly with low-pectin fruits such as strawberry. Alternatively, low-pectin fruits may be blended with high-pectin fruits such as apple, to achieve a good ‘set’. Citric acid (eg lemon juice) is added to help fruit release pectin during cooking.
History of Jam and Jelly
Preserves were originally made by combining fruit with honey and then sun-dried until they changed to a jelly consistency. The first known jam recipe appeared in an ancient Roman cookbook called ‘De Re Coquinaria’ from the 1st century CE, featuring fruit cooked with honey. Some sources claim that preserves originated in the Middle East and were introduced to Europe during the Crusades.
Quince, a high pectin fruit similar to apple, often featured in early recipes for preserves. Marmalade, a preserve made from citrus fruit, similar to jam and jelly, was originally made from quinces. Quinces and marmalade are so closely connected, that historians believe the word ‘marmalade’ comes from the Portuguese word for quince (‘marmelo’) or from the name of an ancient Greek preserve that consisted of quinces and honey (‘melomeli’).
From the 1500s, when cane sugar became available, jam started to be made with sugar instead of honey. Sugar was still very expensive at the time, and even the wealthiest classes considered sugar-based jams a luxurious treat enjoyed only by the spoonful. As sugar became more affordable from the 1700s, jams and jellies made from sugar started to become more commonplace and available to the masses.
Although, historically, copper cooking equipment was preferred for jam making, it is no longer widely used due to health concerns about copper metal contamination. Some jam makers, however, still prefer to use copper cooking pots as they claim it produces a better quality jam.
Did you enjoy this article ‘What is difference between Jam and Jelly?
If you’d like to learn more about the processed foods we eat everyday, please check out my non-fiction food comic book How Food is Made: An illustrated guide to how everyday food is produced. The book features 60 common foods, detailing their history and manufacturing process using illustrations and food infographics.
If you have ever wondered where factory food really comes from and how it is made, this book is for you. Don’t just take my word for it. The press and readers love the book too – check out media and reviews here. Find out more about the book here and view a free sample from the book here.
Thanks for reading!
Credits for article ‘What is difference between Jam and Jelly’: Featured Image Photo by Pixabay from Pexels