A Preserve Primer

Preserves, Marmalade, Jam and Jelly: What’s the difference?

Preserves refers to any “preserved” fruit and/or vegetable, though, in some circles the nomer entitles the fruit to be large, whole and cooked.  Of the four categories, Preserves has the largest fruit (and skin) particles.  All preserves are, by definition, canned, except a variety called ‘frozen preserves” where the cooking process doesn’t go on long enough for the product to seal properly in jars, so the jars go into the freezer.

Marmalade traditionally refers to citrus fruit and peel that has been “preserved” by cooking to release pectin (as is the case with each fruit product discussed), and adding honey or sugar as a thickener. These days in my hoity toity circle of chef friends, such delicacies as ONION marmalade are being invented and enjoyed (referring to the addition of a sweetener and cooking the onion down to a mushy delicious mess with spices and/or herbs.

Jam is whole fruit, cut into pieces or crushed,  with much smaller particles.  A good jam shouldn’t have “run-off”.

Jelly is fruit juice extracted from the fruit with sugar or honey to thicken and is most prized when smooth and clear or translucent.   A good jelly doesn’t have “run-off” of the fruit juice.

Some good fruit is about to come into season – get cookin’!  (or order from me – I’ll have some made!) – Lula