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The Differences Between Jelly, Jam, Preserves, and More

Posted by Gwen Watson on Sep 30, 2014

The Differences Between Jelly, Jam, Preserves, and More

When it comes to dressing up your toast, English muffin, or bagel, what do you like to spread on top? Are you a jelly person? A jam person? Do you even know the difference between these fruity treats? Yes, they might all look similar in the jar, but there are differences! If you don’t know what they are, we’re here to help!


The fruit in jelly is in the form of juice. So, grape jelly is made of grape juice and sugar. This makes it easier to spread compared to the others.


The fruit in jam is in the form of pulp, so jams contain smashed up pieces of the fruit. It is made using the whole fruit, cooked with sugar to pureed form. It is thicker than jelly.


“Jam” and “preserves” are often used interchangeably because they are so similar. If you had to find a difference, it would be that the fruit in preserves are in larger chunks than in jam and it’s not as smooth. Preserves use the whole fruit.


Marmalades are similar to jams, but refer only to citrus preserves like oranges, lemons, limes, or grapefruits. It uses the zest, pulp, and juice of the fruit and is often sweet and tangy.

Fruit spread

Fruit spreads are made from whole or pureed fruit and are similar to jam or preserves but are made without adding sugar. So, if you are trying to cut down on your sugar intake this is a tasty option!


Conserves are jams that are made from a mixture of different fruits and sugar. They sometimes can include raisins or other dried fruits, nuts, and spices. Conserves are thick and chunky and pair well with meats and cheeses.

Fruit butter

Fruit butter gets its name because it is easy to spread, not because it contains butter- it doesn’t! It is smooth and creamy and made by slow-cooking fruit and sugar until it reaches the right consistency.

Fruit curds

Fruit curds are creamy spreads. It is made with sugar, eggs, butter, and usually citrus juice. The classic variety is lemon curd, but you can also find (or make) lime, orange, strawberry, and cranberry curds. Citrus based fruit curds are tart.


Compote is one of two types of “fruit sauce”. It’s typically not jarred, but rather used immediately as part of a recipe. Compote is made with either fresh or dried fruit (whole or in pieces), slowly cooked in a sugar syrup. Slow cooking ensures that the fruit maintains its shape.


Chutney can be sweet or hot and tangy. It can be made from almost any combination of fruits and/or vegetables and usually contains vinegar, sugar, and spices. The texture is similar to jam.

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