Jam and jelly are two different types of fruit preserves, and the difference between jam and jelly is actually quite significant in terms of flavor, texture, and nutritional value. In addition to jellies and jams, it is also possible to see a range of other types of fruit preserves, including confit, fruit butter, conserves, marmalade, and fruit curds. Both jam and jelly have been made for centuries, and they appear to be native to Europe.
The primary difference between jam and jelly involves the contents. Jam is made from whole fruit, meaning every edible part of the fruit is involved, while jelly is made from fruit juices. Jam is a thick, chunky spread, while jelly is a thinner, more evenly-textured spread. Jams may include things like seeds and pieces of fruit skin which create a very distinctive texture, setting them apart from jellies. Because jam includes whole fruit, it tends to have more of the vitamins and minerals found in the parent fruit, and it is also usually only made with one type of fruit, whereas jellies may involve a blend of juices.
There is also a difference between jam and jelly in terms of preparation methods. Jam is made by cooking fruit with sugar and water until the fruit starts to soften and break up, releasing its natural pectin. Pectin is the substance which makes jam firm up into a gelatinous solid. Once the fruit is softened, the jam can be canned and sealed, with some cooks processing their jam to make the texture more uniform.
Jelly can be made with fruit juice, or with liquid leftover from making jam. Because whole fruit is not involved, pectin must be added to jelly to ensure that it firms. Jellies tend to be a bit sweeter than jams, because they do not have the natural tartness of whole fruit, with sugar acting as a preservative in both cases. Unlike jelly, jam does not need added pectin, illustrating a major difference between jam and jelly.
These fruit preserves can be used in much the same way as spreads on baked goods, condiments, and so forth. Some people think of jelly as a more processed form of fruit conserves, preferring the coarse texture of jam because it feels more “natural,” although both jam and jelly can be produced with minimal processing. In terms of end product, the major difference between jam and jelly is the texture: people who dislike seeds in their jam or chunky preserves will probably prefer jelly, while people who like things a little more textured may like jam instead.
08-27-2009 at 06:13 PM