Everybody has that moment when they realize they don’t know about something that they should probably know about. Whether it’s history, language, science, or cultural phenomena, you’ve felt the stinging personal embarrassment of a moment wherein you realize there’s some common knowledge that isn’t so common. Don’t feel bad; nobody knows everything. Nobody, that is, except me and my sidekick, The Internet!
Somewhere in the world, a confused soul begs the question…
What’s the Difference Between Jelly, Jam, Marmalade, Preserves, and Fruit Spread?
They all look the same, crammed into a glass jar. They all tend to taste the same when spread on toast or a bagel. But there must be a difference between them all, right? What sort of industry would bestow five different product categorizations for no good reason?
Thankfully, logic can relax – there is an explanation. The difference between these many fruity accoutrements lies in the form of the fruit contained.
In jelly, the fruit contained is in the form of juice. Thus, the only thing “strawberry” in strawberry jelly is strawberry juice. That’s why it’s more gelatinous and easier to spread – it’s just goo (juice and pectin, technically).
In jam, the fruit contained is in the form of pulp. So, your grape jam actually does have some thoroughly smashed-up pieces of grapes.
In preserves, the fruit contained is in the form of larger chunks. However, it should be pointed out that, in many places, the differences between preserves and jam are negligible and the terms are often used interchangeably.
The term “marmalade” is usually applied to citrus preserves (like oranges, lemons, limes, or grapefruits). If you’re wondering why they didn’t just call them “citrus preserves”, it’s because of the French.
Oh and “fruit spread”? That’s just a jam or preserve made without sugar.