Differences Between Jellies, Preserves & Marmalade


At breakfast time, as you choose a fruit spread for your toast or bagel, you can easily look at the label on the jar to determine if you are using jelly, marmalade or another form of preserves. To understand the main difference between jellies, marmalades and other preserves, you must understand the form the fruit takes during preparation.


  • Preserve describes foods that are canned or preserved in glass jars. Preserves include jams, jellies and marmalades, but they can also be foods such as pickles, chutneys and other items. In the world of fruit spreads, the word preserve is an interchangeable word used for jams and marmalade. Preserves contain gelatinous fruit chunks due to the fact that the fruit is cooked in large pieces during preparation.


  • Jelly is different from preserves and marmalade in that it does not contain any fruit chunks. Jelly's smooth consistency makes it the easiest to spread. It is made by boiling fruit and water and allowing the pectin to leech into the water. The fruit is then discarded and the remaining juice is boiled with sugar at high temperatures. As the liquid cools, it turns to jelly. While some fruits have enough natural pectin for jelly to form, other fruits need added pectin or gelatin, which can be purchased.


  • Marmalade is a clear, jelly substance that contains fruit chunks or rinds. Although marmalade is typically made from citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit, any fruit may be used to make marmalade. Making marmalade is a three-day process wherein raw fruit is soaked, cooked and mixed with sugar and lemon juice before being cooked again. The resulting substance is a balanced jelly with suspended fruit chunks.


  • Jam is a fruit-based preserve and the most widely used. Making jam is a simple process that takes approximately one day. It is made by cooking down whole fresh fruit with added sugar and lemon juice. The fruit contained within jam is still in its natural shape, although slightly altered due to the cooking process. Jams aim to preserve as much of the natural and original fruit flavor as possible.

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