Fruit spreads always contain some combination of four ingredients: fruit, acid, pectin, and sugar. However, the difference between jams, jellies, and preserves is the amount of each ingredient used. Different levels of acid, pectin, and fruit greatly affect the consistency and create different results.
Jams—great for pairing with baked brie or spreading over toast—sit in the middle of the road on consistency. Made with crushed or chopped fruits, this condiment typically takes on a semi-solid yet still wiggly texture when cooked with sugar, but it does not thicken to the point of becoming a single gel. Due to the remaining fruit pulp, a jam should be at least slightly opaque, and fruit pieces should still be visible.
A jelly is characterized by its transparency and lack of fruit pulp. This spread is made exclusively with a fruit’s juice. To create the firmness of a jelly, fruits high in pectin and acid (such as currants and lemons) are cooked with added sugar, forming a gel. However, many fruits require additional pectin or acid to achieve jelly status. Jellies—particularly grape and apricot—make for a delicious addition to English muffins, and they’re the stars of a stuffed French toast!
The thickest of the three spreads, preserves are made from whole fruits or small chunks of fruit that are often suspended in a slightly firmed syrup or in jelly itself. This chunky fruit spread is great to have with cheese, and it adds a bite of citrus to any charcuterie board.
In certain fruit spreads, the difference between jams, jellies, and preserves isn’t as clear. Some speads share traits of more than one category or blur the lines between the three types, which only opens up more possibilities for how you can use jams and spreads. Sohnrey Family Foods offers spreads for all occasions, from lusciously thick jams to take your morning toast to the top to thinner jellies that perfectly complement English muffins and pancakes.