Conserves, Preserves, and Jams – oh my!

Conserves, Preserves, and Jams – oh my!
  • March 22nd, 2011
  • Comments Off on Conserves, Preserves, and Jams – oh my!

There is a laundry list of types of fruit preserves – not only are there fruit possibilities but the different preserve styles. But what are the differences between a jam, a jelly or what makes one a ‘preserve’? Or a conserve? Or fruit butter?

Preserves = Jam

Preserve is sort of an umbrella term. A lot of jars you’ll see – even ours – say ‘preserve.’ Usually this really means jam – which is a fruit preserve made with whole chunks of fruit. We put preserves because it’s what the midwest uses instead of ‘Jam,’ and mostly there is no difference. Jam is made from the fruit’s juice and the fruit itself; an example: strawberry jam has hunks of macerated fruit and the juice from them gets added to water and sugar to create the actual preserve. Fruit and water is boiled and sometimes sugar is added to sweeten and help activate the pectin. One idea for Jam, besides toast, is to take a heavy helping of cherry preserves (like the one we make) and add it to your morning oatmeal.


This one is easy, think of jelly as Jam only without the fruit. Jelly is the fruit flavored translucent spread made from fruit juice. It’s made nearly the same exact way as Jam, only instead of leaving in the fruit chunks in, they are filtered out. Jelly is usually found with sweet ingredients but can be made savory, spicy, or anywhere in between. The trick is to not force the juices out of the fruit by crushing them, but to let them drain naturally and let the flavors pull themselves out. Perfect example of jelly is grape, which is soft and filled with juice ripe for the canning!


Is like jelly but with almost always citrus fruit and using the peel of the fruit (sometimes for bittering). Although there are onion marmalades, they are less common and less so in the states. Marmalades are great on toast on those extra warm mornings.


These are like Jams only the fruit is stewed in sugar. It is a tricky thing to make, because they need to be just right, not cooked too long in the sugar so the fruit becomes rough and not too short because the flavor need be extracted. Conserves, like ours, also sometimes contain nuts or vegetables or dried paired fruit combinations. Conserves are the prefect item to add to any cheese platter.

Fruit butter

An almost always thick tasty paste of fruit. Fruit butter is made by pushing fruit through a sieve or by blending. Like our amazingly tasty apple butter, one of our favorites for sure. Lob some on toast and you’re good to go, or stuff a muffin with some for an apply surprise.

Almost anything, be it fruit, vegetable, meat, or spice, can be made into or added to sugar and result in one of the above styles of preserves. Canning has been around for centuries and has waned in popularity, but with the shift in focus of getting food stuffs closer and closer, it was inevitable or it to gain in popularity again. A peach won’t keep ripe till winter, and that is why preserving it is so important – keeping locally made food available on the shelf all year round.

That is what we do here, buy as much as we can during the peak growing season and preserve all spring and summer into fall. Watch our shelves for our ever-changing collection of preserves, we’re canning more each year!

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