The Anatomy Of Jam...
For the longest time I didn't have the slightest idea what made a Jam a "Jam" or a Jelly a "Jelly", let alone the difference between a Conserve or Preserve. To make matters even more complicated there are even more choices when canning fruits; Butters and Marmalade! Pickles and Chutneys could also be added to the list but for now we'll hold off and dive into that lesson another day.
There are so many choices, so how’s a person supposed to choose?
The best place to start is at the beginning with what sets each choice apart from the other.
Jams are made by cooking crushed or chopped fruits with sugar until the mixture is thick and stays firm on a spoon. Jams can be made of one fruit or a mixture of fruits. When complete, Jam will be spreadable but not retain the shape of the jar.
Juice is strained from fruit to make Jelly. It is usually made so that the end result is very clear without fruit bits or seeds. Jelly is firm but spreadable and will hold its shape on a spoon.
Marmalade is a soft spreadable product with small bits of fruit and peel suspended in a clear jelly. Marmalade must be made in small batches and almost brought to a rapid boil. This causes the fruit to reach the "gelling point" (see description below). Marmalade is very similar to jam but more robust in texture and flavor.
Simply, fruit preserved with sugar so it retains its original shape, cooked till the liquid is clear and the fruit is plump and tender. Some preserves can be as thick as jelly but most are thin enough to spoon over other foods, like ice cream with apricot preserves. Preserves do not hold their shape when removed from the jar.
Fruit butters are made by blending fruit to a pulp and adding sugar, cooked down slowly so that the butter will spread easily over toast etc. Butters are thick and will keep their shape on a spoon.
Conserves are similar to jam but contain two or more combinations of fruits and nuts. Conserves are thick and hold their shape on a spoon. Nuts are optional, but if used must be added to the recipe in the last five minutes of processing.