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What is the difference between jam, jelly, marmalade, preserves, conserves, fruit butter, or fruit curd? This can be a tough question to answer. These "jams" are all similar, but each one is different from the rest. Some use an ingredient called pectin, which is a natural, gelatin-like substance that is added to fruit to help it thicken. It is available in dry and liquid form. Most of these are sweet, fruit-based offerings, but some are tart and others are savory. Most of the items below are stored in glass jars, although cans and plastic packets are also used.


A jam made of whole or large pieces of different fruits stewed in sugar or syrup. These 4 items are cooked together until thick: various fruits, sugar, nuts and sometimes raisins. This mixture can be used as an accompaniment to meats or spread on biscuits or toast.

Fruit Butter

Stew fresh fruit, sugar and spices until thick, such as apple butter, which contains fresh apples, cider, sugar and cinnamon. There is actually NO butter in Fruit Butter as this term refers to its spreadability.

Fruit Curd

This creamy spread, think lemon curd, is made with the zest of the fruit, eggs, butter, sugar and citrus fruit. Curds are usually more tart than sweet and can be made in a variety of flavors, including cranberry, blood orange, lime and strawberry.

6849 jelly jam jar


Start with fruit purees and add sugar and pectin until thickened. This creates a smooth finished product with a semi-jellied texture. Jams are usually made from one fruit, not a combination of various fruits.


This clear liquid is made from sweetened and jelled fruit juice, to which pectin and an acid, such as lemon juice, are added. Jelly is another smooth finished product.

6849 jelly marmalade


We usually think of orange marmalade (made from Seville oranges) but there are also many other marmalades, such as onion marmalade and beet marmalade.  In other words, marmalade includes the zest and flesh from citrus fruits or vegetables.


Similar to conserves, preserves are made from whole or large pieces of fruit. The fruit, usually cooked with sugar and pectin, can be spread on biscuits or toast.

For more food, wine and recipes, check out Sally Bernstein!

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