All You Need to Know About Jams, Jellies, and Fruit Preserves

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Before a refrigerator was invented in 1913, it was challenging to find strawberry jam in the winter or apple jam in the summer. This was only possible if the jam had been preserved. Industries worldwide began preserving fruits to be eaten all year round, and as a result, you can now very commonly find jams and jellies in the market.

Fruit jams and jellies have been a popular choice for sweet spreads for breakfast, sandwiches, and different kinds of food.

What Is Pectin, and Why Is it Essential for Jam?

Jellies, jam, and most shelf fruit spreads are made with three main ingredients, fruit, sugar, and pectin.

Pectin is an ingredient you might be unaware of. It is a type of starch found naturally within the cell walls of fruits and gives them form and structure. When pectin is heated to 220 Fahrenheit and exposed to acids such as lemon or citrus, it forms into a gel.

Firm fruits such as strawberries and raspberries tend to contain higher pectin content. This is why most fruit jams are made from strawberries, grapes, and so on. When the fruit softens and ripes, the pectin content in it begins to diminish. This is why you will often see manufacturers using barely ripened fruit for jams as it is high in pectin and can be easily made into a spread.

What Is the Most Significant Difference Between Jelly, Jam, and Fruit Preserves?

The most significant difference lies in the fact as to how much of the real fruit has been used in the product and its making.


Jelly has been seen to have the smoothest consistency out of them all. It is most commonly made from crushing fruit, while the solid chunky leftovers are discarded. This then leaves behind only the fruit syrup, combined with pectin and heated in the form of gelatin spread.

Once the jelly is cooled and solidified, you can get a firm transparent fruit spread. Jelly is easily notable due to its dense gel and gemstone-like charity, which is preferred by many. Does jelly go bad? According to the USDA, it does go bad after 12 months!


Similarly, jam is also made by crushing fruit, but most fruit fibers and seeds are left to ensure spreadable consistency. The crushed fruit or fruit pulp is cooked down, usually with lemon, until the fruit loses its texture. After this, sugar and pectin are added to it.

Once it begins to cool, jam also has a translucent quality, but you can easily spot chunks of fruit in it.

Jam contains natural fruit, so it is considered a healthier option as opposed to jelly. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the product needs to include more than 55% of sugar to be classified as jam.

Fruit Preserves

Taking a step further to jam are fruit preserves. This is where the fruit is suspended within the sugar and pectin fruit mixture even before it has cooled down. Fruit preserves often contain whole fruits such as cherries or blueberries. The texture of preserves is not see-through, and tiny pieces of fruit can be seen in it.


Marmalade, on the other hand, seems similar to preserves or jam. But it is more closely related to jelly. Orange marmalade is commonly made by adding tiny pieces of fruit rind mixed with citrus juice, pectin, and sugar.


Jello, however, is entirely different. It is wholly made from gelatin having artificial colors and flavors. But it involves no fruit unless you want to add it yourself. 

Among the above options, preserves have the most fruit. It is just tiny pieces of fruit chopped and mixed with sugar to keep them fresh and long-lasting. Preserves are often combined with a fruit syrup or a jam.

Which Will Have the Most Authentic Flavor?

In terms of the authenticity of flavor, undoubtedly, jam or preserves tend to have the richest portion of fruitiness. In comparison, jelly would have a less pronounced taste. This is why most chefs tend to choose jam or preserves over jellies when it comes to baking or cooking. Jam compliments cheese and crackers as well.

What Is Easier to Use as a Spread?

As opposed to preserves, jams or jelly are both very easy to use as spreads. But since jelly is made from fruit juice, it is considered to be the easiest to spread.

Shelf Life

It is a fact that the more sugar your preserve contains, the longer the shelf life in your fridge. Hence in terms of shelf life, jellies tend to last longest, then comes jam, and last comes fruit butter. Since fruit butter has reduced fruit but no additional sugar, hence it doesn’t last long. If you are wondering how long does jelly jam last, then the answer to that is a year. If you keep jam in the refrigerator after it has been opened, it can easily last up to a year or more, depending on the brand.


In terms of calories and eating healthy, jam is considered a healthier alternative. One tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter contains up to 120 calories, whereas most jams only tend to have 50 calories per tablespoon. So, if you are watching your weight, you ought to buy jam over peanut butter for a healthier diet.

Now that you have understood the difference between jams, jellies, and fruit preserves. Let’s look at some interesting facts about jam.

First Appearance in Europe

Interestingly, it was the crusaders who brought the jam to Europe. After the war, people from the middle east got it back to Europe. In the middle east, fruit preserves were very commonly made as sugarcane grew there naturally. Hence this was brought into Europe, where jam became the go-to spread for royals. Interestingly, jam was also loved by Louis VIV.

Oldest Marmalade Recipe

It would surprise you to know that the oldest recipes using marmalade were used in a recipe book back in 1967. The book was written by Elizabeth Cholmondeley and followed by many for many years.

Jam in World War II

Undoubtedly, food was in short supply and heavily rationed during World War II. Many women in the war were given money to buy sugar and make jam and feed their country, which was running out of food. Around 5,300 tons of fruit were preserved during these times, and many preservation centers were also created.

Hence, choosing a spread for your bread depends on personal preference. If you like a chunkier texture, then you better opt for jam, whereas if you are looking for a smoother consistency, it is recommended to choose jelly.


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