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Three varieties of fruit preserves: strawberry, quince, and red plum

Fruit preserves are fruits, or vegetables, that have been prepared and canned for long term storage. The preparation of fruit preserves traditionally involves the use of pectin as a gelling agent, although sugar or honey may be used as well. The ingredients used and how they are prepared will determine the type of preserves; jams, jellies and marmalades are all examples of different styles of fruit preserves that vary based upon the ingredients used.

There are various varieties of fruit preserves made globally, and they can be made from sweet or savory ingredients. In North America, the plural form preserves is used, while the singular preserve is used in British and Commonwealth English. Additionally, the name of the type of fruit preserves will also vary depending on the regional variant of English being used.



Confit, which is the past participle form of the French verb "confire" or "to preserve", is most often applied to preservation of meats, especially poultry and pork, by cooking them in their own fat or oils and allowing the fats to set. However, the term can also refer to fruit or vegetables which have been seasoned and cooked with honey or sugar until it has reached a jam-like consistency. Savory confits, such as ones made with garlic or tomatoes, may call for a savory oil such as virgin olive oil as the preserving agent.


A conserve is a jam made of fruit stewed in sugar.

Although under EU law a fruit conserve has no official definition, typically it will have identifiable whole chunks of fruit, or, if the initial fruit is small — e.g. bilberry, wild strawberry or other small berry - whole fruits in the set mixture. It is sometimes known as a whole fruit jam.

Often the making of conserves can be trickier than making a standard jam, due to the fact that the balance between cooking, or sometimes steeping in the hot sugar mixture for just enough time to allow the flavour to be extracted from the fruit, and sugar to penetrate the fruit, and cooking too long that fruit will break down and liquefy. This process can also be achieved by spreading the dry sugar over raw fruit in layers, and leaving for several hours to steep into the fruit then just heating the resulting mixture only to bring to the setting point. As a result of this minimal cooking, some fruits are not particularly suitable for making into conserves, due to the fact that they require cooking for longer periods to avoid issues such as tough skins. Currants & gooseberries, and a number of plums are among these fruits.

Due to this shorter cooking period, not as much pectin will be released from the fruit, and as such, conserves (particularly home-made conserves) will sometimes be slightly softer set than some jams.

An alternate definition holds that conserves are preserves made from a mixture of fruits and/or vegetables. Conserves may also include dried fruit or nuts.

Fruit butter

Fruit butter, in this context, refers to a process where the whole fruit is forced through a sieve or blended after the heating process.

"Fruit butters are generally made from larger fruits, such as apples, plums, peaches or grapes. Cook until softened and run through a sieve to give a smooth consistency. After sieving, cook the pulp ... add sugar and cook as rapidly as possible with constant stirring... The finished product should mound up when dropped from a spoon, but should not cut like jelly. Neither should there be any free liquid."—Berolzheimer R (ed) et al. (1959)

Fruit curd

Fruit curd is a dessert topping and spread usually made with lemon, lime, orange, or raspberry. The basic ingredients are beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest which are gently cooked together until thick and then allowed to cool, forming a soft, smooth, intensely flavored spread. Some recipes also include egg whites and/or butter.

Fruit spread

Fruit spread refers to a jam or preserve with no added sugar.


Jam contains both fruit juice and pieces of the fruit's (or vegetable's) flesh, however some cookbooks define jam as cooked and gelled fruit (or vegetable) purees.

Properly, the term jam refers to a product made with whole fruit, cut into pieces or crushed. The fruit is heated with water and sugar to activate the pectin in the fruit. The mixture is then put into containers. The following extract from a US cookbook describes the process.

"Jams are usually made from pulp and juice of one fruit, rather than a combination of several fruits. Berries and other small fruits are most frequently used, though larger fruits such as apricots, peaches, or plums cut into small pieces or crushed are also used for jams. Good jam has a soft even consistency without distinct pieces of fruit, a bright color, a good fruit flavor and a semi-jellied texture that is easy to spread but has no free liquid." - Berolzheimer R (ed) et al. (1959)



Uncooked or minimally cooked (less than 5 minutes) jams, called freezer jam, because they are stored frozen, are popular in parts of North America for their very fresh taste.


In North America, the term jelly refers to a clear fruit spread consisting of set, sweetened fruit (or vegetable) juice. Additional pectin may be added in some instances where the original fruit does not supply enough, for example with grapes. In British English, 'jelly' is also generally used to mean a sweet dessert made by adding gelatin to fruit juice, or more commonly from commercially prepared concentrated blocks. Jelly in the sense of a preserve or spread can be made from sweet, savory or hot ingredients. It is made by a similar process to jam, with the additional step of filtering out the fruit pulp after the initial heating. A muslin or stockinette "jelly bag" is traditionally used as a filter, suspended by string over a bowl to allow the straining to occur gently under gravity. It is important not to attempt to force the straining process, for example by squeezing the mass of fruit in the muslin, or the clarity of the resulting jelly will be compromised.

"Good jelly is clear and sparkling and has a fresh flavor of the fruit from which it is made. It is tender enough to quiver when moved, but holds angles when cut.
EXTRACTING JUICE — Pectin is best extracted from the fruit by heat, therefore cook the fruit until soft before straining to obtain the juice ... Pour cooked fruit into a jelly bag which has been wrung out of cold water. Hang up and let drain. When dripping has ceased the bag may be squeezed to remove remaining juice, but this may cause cloudy jelly." - Berolzheimer R (ed) et al. (1959)



British-style marmalade is a sweet preserve with a bitter tang made from fruit, sugar, water, and (in some commercial brands) a gelling agent. American-style marmalade is sweet, not bitter. In English-speaking usage, "marmalade" almost always refers to a preserve derived from a citrus fruit, most commonly oranges, although onion marmalade is also used as an accompaniment to savoury dishes.

The recipe includes sliced or chopped fruit peel, which is simmered in fruit juice and water until soft; indeed marmalade is sometimes described as jam with fruit peel (although many companies now also manufacture peel-free marmalade). Such marmalade is most often consumed on toasted bread for breakfast. The favoured citrus fruit for marmalade production in the UK is the "Seville orange," Citrus aurantium var. aurantium, thus called because it was originally imported from Sevillemarker in Spainmarker; it is higher in pectin than sweet oranges, and therefore gives a good set. Marmalade can also be made from lemons, limes, grapefruit, strawberries or a combination.

Regional terminology

The term preserves is usually interchangeable with jam. Some cookbooks define preserves as cooked and gelled whole fruit (or vegetable), which includes a significant portion of the fruit.

The terms jam and jelly are used in different parts of the English speaking world in different ways.

In the United States, jams are often popularly referred to as "jelly" in a generic way. In the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, the two terms are more strictly differentiated, although the term jam is more popularly used in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as a generic term. To further confuse the issue, the term jelly is also used in the UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to refer to a gelatin dessert, whereas in North America the brand name Jell-O is used as a generic term for gelatin desserts and is strictly differentiated from clear fruit preserves.


Allowing jam to 'boil over' creates a hazard in the kitchen.

In general, jam is produced by taking mashed or chopped fruit or vegetable pulp and boiling it with sugar and water. The proportion of sugar and fruit varies according to the type of fruit and its ripeness, but a rough starting point is equal weights of each. When the mixture reaches a temperature of 104 °C (219 °F), the acid and the pectin in the fruit react with the sugar, and the jam will set on cooling. However, most cooks work by trial and error, bringing the mixture to a "fast rolling boil", watching to see if the seething mass changes texture, and dropping small samples on a plate to see if they run or set.

Commercially produced jams are usually produced using one of two methods. The first is the open pan method, which is essentially a larger scale version of the method a home jam maker would use. This gives a traditional flavor, with some caramelization of the sugars. The second commercial process, involves the use of a vacuum vessel, where the jam is placed under a vacuum, which has the effect of reducing its boiling temperature to anywhere between 65-80 °C depending on the recipe and the end result desired. The lower boiling temperature enables the water to be driven off as it would be when using the traditional open pan method, but with the added benefit of retaining more of the volatile flavor compounds from the fruit, preventing caramelization of the sugars, and of course reducing the overall energy required to make the product. However, the vacuum pan method does not kill off all micro-organisms which may be present in the jam, therefore once the desired amount of water has been driven off, the jam still needs to be heated briefly to 95-100 °C to kill off any micro-organisms that may be present. During the commercial filling of the jam into jars, it is common to use a flame to sterilize the rim of the jar and the lid to destroy any yeasts & molds which may cause spoilage during storage. It is also common practice to inject steam into the head space at the top of the jar immediately prior to the fitting of the lid, in order to create a vacuum. Not only does this vacuum help prevent the growth of spoilage organisms, it also pulls down the tamper evident safety button when lids of this type are employed.
Strawberry jam

How easily a jam sets depends on the pectin content of the fruit. Some fruits, such as gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, most citrus fruits, apples and raspberries, set very well; others, such as strawberries and ripe blackberries, often need to have pectin added. There are commercial pectin products on the market, and most industrially-produced jams use them. Home jam-makers sometimes rely on adding a pectin-rich fruit to a poor setter; for example apple to blackberries. Other tricks include extracting juice from lemons, redcurrants or gooseberries, or making a pectin stock with whole apples or just the cores and skins, once cooled, this 'stock' can then be frozen for later use. Making jam at home is a popular handicraft activity, and many take part in this. Homemade jam may be made for personal consumption, or as part of a cottage industry.

Legal definitions

US FDA definitions

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published standards of identity in 21 CFR 150, and treats jam and preserves as synonymous, but distinguishes jelly from jams and preserves. All of these are cooked and pectin-gelled fruit products, but jellies are based entirely on fruit juice or other liquids, while jams and preserves are gelled fruit that may include the seeds and pulp. The United States Department of Agriculturemarker offers grading service based on these standards

European Union directives on 'jam'

In the European Union, the jam directive (Council Directive 79/693/EEC, 24 July 1979) set minimum standards for the amount of "fruit" in jam, but the definition of fruit was expanded to take account of several unusual kinds of jam made in the EU. For this purpose, "fruit" is considered to include fruits that are not usually treated in a culinary sense as fruits, such as tomatoes; fruits that are not normally made into jams; and vegetables that are sometimes made into jams, such as: rhubarb (the edible part of the stalks), carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and pumpkins. This definition continues to apply in the new directive, Council Directive 2001/113/EC (20 December 2001).

Extra jam is subject to somewhat stricter rules that set higher standards for the minimum fruit content (45% instead of 35% as a general rule, but lower for some fruits such as redcurrants and blackcurrants), as well specifying as the use of unconcentrated fruit pulp, and forbidding the mixture of certain fruits and vegetables with others.

Jelly worldwide

There are a variety of jellies in the cuisines of East and Southeast Asia. Depending on the type, they may be sweet or unsweetened, or neither.

See also



External links

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