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November 29, 2021 3 min read

It’s a question we hear surprisingly a lot here at Pepper Jelly: “So, what exactly is the difference between jelly, jam, and preserves anyway?”

Most people don’t know the answer to that question; they’re just happy to have something tasty to put on toast or crackers. Whether you use our products as pepper jelly dip or pepper jelly spread, the most important thing to us is making your taste buds happy.

If you’re really curious, though, we’re happy to fill you in on the intricacies of jelly, jam, and preserves. We even asked some of our food experts to weigh in, such as Nataly Komova, Fitness and Nutritionist Expert at JustCBD, who had this to say: 

“All the three serve the same purpose but have a difference. The biggest difference among these fruit products is based on how much of the original fruit is included in processing. Some use whole fruit, while others are chopped or crushed."

So, which is which? And what exactly is it that sets them apart?

 

Preparation

“The difference between jelly, jam, and preserves is that jelly is made with strained fruit juice,” Erica Tan, Co-Founder of Best in Singapore, says, adding that jelly, jam, and preserves are all prepared using fruit pectin and sugar. When heated in water, the pectin thickens, giving these spreads their signature textures. 

While jelly is prepared by straining the fruit juice and pectin, jam simply adds mashed fruit directly into the mix, while preserves incorporate whole or large pieces of fruit.

 

Consistency

A consequence of the different cooking processes that go into creating jelly, jam, and preserves is a variation in consistency. Or, as Kaitlin Magno from Phokmeat.com, says: "The difference between all of these is all in the texture.”

Magno describes jelly as “smooth and thin” and jam as “thicker and not runny at all.” That said, she also points out that preserves tend to boast the chunkiest, chewiest body of all, due to their higher whole fruit content.

 

Ingredients

As noted earlier, the act of preparing jelly, jam, and preserves is often similar, but includes one major distinction. “The main difference in jelly, jam, and preserves is the amount of fruit in each one,” Crystal Reinwald of CrystalReinwald.com says, noting that this single subtle but significant change in ingredients is to blame for a lot of culinary confusion.

“Jelly is the juice with the solids removed,” she continues. “Jam has actual fruit, usually crushed. Preserves have the most fruit and it's usually just chopped small.”

 

Does Knowing the Difference Even Matter?

Yes and no. It all depends on who you ask! While knowing the difference between jelly, jam, and preserves can be helpful if you’re looking for a very specific product, the fact is that many people today use all three terms interchangeably.

“The line between jam and presence is slightly blurry with most producers using whatever they like the sound of,” explains Lisa Riznikove, President and Co-Founder of Foodocracy. “There are no preserves police making sure everyone uses the right term.”

In other words, don’t sweat it too much. Unless you’re looking to specifically buy or cook one or the other, you’re still getting the same flavors, so the most important thing is simply finding a taste you enjoy.

 

Satisfy Your Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Cravings with Pepper Jelly

Speaking of tastes you enjoy, at Pepper Jelly our goal is first and foremost to help you satisfy your cravings for sweetness and spice. Every flavor in our line of jellies, jams, preserves—whatever you want to call them!—is made with love and care.

That’s why we’re confident that, when you crack open a jar of Pepper Jelly, you’ll savor every last bite. Don’t believe us. Try some for yourself and see!