Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jams and Jellies and Marmalade, Oh My!

For most of my [relatively short] life, I've bandied about terms like jam and jelly without discretion. But, thanks to a very informative program on a local access channel [go university town cable!], I have now learned that there are definite differences to these products. And, since I fully plan on tackling various preservation methods, I thought it would be handy to define them!

A few notes to start:
- Things like pectin or a gelling agent of some kind (in more modern methods), and heat-canning tend to be common threads between the actual production of these foods. The differences come into play based on what is actually in the jar.

- As I understand it, the term "preserves" is an over-arching term that includes products like jelly, jam, and conserves.

And now, for the differences:

Jelly - is made from fruit (or vegetable) juice.

Jam - contains crushed or cut up pieces of the fruit (or vegetable), as well as juice.

Marmalade - includes bits of the fruit peel, and is generally used only in reference to preserves made from citrus fruits

Conserves - are whole fruits, stewed in sugar. They can also contain things like nuts.

For a quick breakdown of the different kind of fruit and vegetable preserves, you can always check out the Wikipedia article. If I ever stumble across that local access show again, I will be sure to note the names of the people involved.

Poking around a bit online, I did find this USDA site that seems to be chock full of information (so much so, you may not need me, my Joy of Cooking, relatives, or experiments!).

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of preservation methods for fruits and vegetables, it is a run down of what most people in the US will encounter in their pantry or grocery stores. It may be a while before I actually tackle the heat-canning methods, but for now at least, I know the differences between jelly and jam.

Have you ever canned anything, or have memories of a family member doing it? Care to share?


Cam said...

Interesting to know the difference. Jim asks that I only buy I guess I can tease him by being literal next time ;)

v said...

I have never made any type of preserves, but it's something I'm very interested in trying. This past holiday season I had a (very) fleeting notion that I'd make strawberry preserves to give out as presents, but that never came to fruition. ;) Anyway, thanks for the preserves primer!