The Difference Between Jam and Jelly

Jams and Jellies

By W. George Elliot

Have you ever wondered what the difference between jam and jelly is? There is a definite distinction that sets both of these canning products apart - but there is also a great deal of similarities. The simple answer is that one contains juice and flesh from a fruit or vegetable where the other only contains the juice. However, there is a bit more to the explanation that clearly defines the difference between jam and jelly.

Spreading A Little Jam

When it comes to preserving, jam is one of the most common because it uses much more of the fruit or vegetable produced into a spreadable food. Essentially a jam is a soft, firm canned item that contains a combination of the flesh and juice of the item being preserved. The term 'jam' is defined as something that is made from whole fruit that has been cut, chopped or crushed into smaller pieces. It is then heated with boiling water and sugar. The chemical reaction this creates activates the natural pectin contained in the fruit prior to being sealed in jars.

There is some science involved in preserving a good quality jam. Typically recipes call for the flesh and juice of a single variety of fruit or vegetable and many of them have a high enough amount of natural pectin in them that packets of additional pectin are not required. Examples of these kinds of fruits include cranberries, plums, apples and blackberries. Other fruit that contain lower amounts of natural pectin can produce quality jams when combined with fruits with higher natural pectin. For example, cherries, peaches, rhubarb and strawberries can be mixed with apples to make a great jam without having to add additional pectin.

Jiggling Like A Bowl of Jelly

Here's where the difference between jam and jelly becomes clearer. A jelly is a fruit spread that is clear or translucent and is made from the juice from sweetened fruit. The similarity to jam is that both products use naturally occurring pectin in order to set or gel. The second difference between jam and jelly comes from the final product. A jelly is not as firm as a jam as it does not contain pieces of fruit. Also, if the juice of the fruit or vegetable being used does not contain enough pectin to properly set then additional pectin may be required. The solution to this may come from combining fruit or adding store-bought pectin from a pouch.

The juice used for jelly comes from a filtering or straining of cut, crushed, chopped and cooked down fruit. The cooking of the fruit assists with both juice and pectin extraction when filtering takes place. There are jelly bags available on the market just for this purpose and there is a very simple, yet strict, method to the straining. Typically the bag is suspended over a bowl by string with gravity doing all the work. Squeezing the bag to speed up the process is not recommended as it may force some pulp into the jelly mixture. This is not a problem for some home canners where others adhere to the requirements of their recipe to the letter. Jelly is also a bit more versatile than jam in that the spectrum is wider in what fruit or vegetables can be used which is why there are such selections a grape or apple jelly all the way to spicy jellies containing hot peppers and additional fruits and vegetables.

The Bonus Round

Probably the best reason for canning and preserving jams or jellies is that it is an easy way to extend the lifespan of a harvest. Properly sealed and processed jams and jellies allow you to enjoy the great fruit and vegetable product from your garden or local market well after harvest time. The healthy extra is that regardless of the difference between jam and jelly, both are going to be lower in calories than some other spreadable choices used with toast, crackers or right out of the jar.

Now that you have a better understanding of what a jam or jelly is, do you know what marmalade is? Marmalade is a fruit spread that is produced using the juice and peel of citrus fruits. There is no chopped, cut or crushed flesh in the mixture which is boiled in water and sugar to activate natural pectin. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits and limes produce excellent marmalade as does combinations of these fruit. Again, there are some similarities to jams and jellies but this is still in a category of its own along with the difference between jam and jelly.

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Article Source: Ezine Articles

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