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Jelly, jam, preserves, fruit butters and conserves, what is the difference?

While we all love grandma's canned jam, fruit preserves, or apple butter, did anyone know if it was technically a jam or a jelly?  I personally have always wondered what is the difference, and the same goes for all of Cherry Republic’s jellies, jams, preserves, fruit butters… and now our new conserve.

Jelly is made from a combination of sugar, pectin, acid (citric acid), and fruit juice, cooked together to become a clear fruit spread. The fruit juice is the key to the clear appearance.  While the juice from fresh fruit can be used, it must be strained to get all the chunks out (spoiler alert, if there are too many pieces of fruit it becomes jam). According to the FDA, jelly must contain at least 55% fruit juice. Cherry Republic’s Cherry Jelly is our most popular jelly.

Jam consists of crushed fruit cooked with sugar until the fruit loses its form and becomes soft. It tends to be more chunky because of how it is made (chock full of fruit). As the jam cooks, the water evaporates, so the jam thickens into the finished product that gets jarred. The sugar in jam recipes serves as the preservative in the whole process. There is a whole slew of FDA regulations that are used to make sure jams don’t get misclassified. We have several popular jams that are top sellers, such as our Cherry Jam, Cherry Berry Jam and Cherry Upside-Down Jam to name a few.

Preserves is a term that is a “catch all” for many preserved fruit spreads, including Cherry Republic’s  Spiced Cherry Preserves or  Cherry Strawberry Preserves. Really what it comes down to is that it's a sister of jam, but is simply chunks of fruit stored or preserved in their own juice, jelly, syrup, or water. Unlike jam, preserves should maintain its shape during the cooking process, and in the end the fruit should be tender and plump in form.

Fruit butters are unlike all the rest where it relies on the fruits natural body to create the thickness. The pureed fruit is cooked with sugar just like jam, but for a much longer time so the water evaporates even more to create the thickness. Fruits such as cherries, apples, apricots, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, and prunes lend themselves best for fruit butters.

Conserves are made from a mixture of fruits, and is another close sister of jam. Where it differs is that it is a mixture of fruits, and can contain nuts or dried fruits that are then mixed in with sugar as the preservative. Conserves chunky appearance can be used as a spread, but is often used as a condiment for meats and cheeses.  Our new Cherry Mimosa Conserve is a great example.

Now that we all know a little more about the different types of fruit spreads, the next time Grandma spreads some of her delicious homemade cherry jelly onto your toast you can confidently pronounce “Grandma, this is really a jam.”