November 1, 2009

Cooking School: Defining Jam, Jelly, Marmalade, Preserves, Fruit Butters, etc.

The Flaky Pastry was posed an interesting question by two very good friends the other day: What's the difference between jam, jelly, marmalade, preserves, fruit butters, conserve, salsa, chutney, and all the various fruit and vegetable condiment forms out there? An excellent question that definitely deserved pondering. Here is a little Guide to Spreadables, if you will...

Jam and Conserves: Made from whole, chopped, or crushed seeded or seedless fruits and sugar boiled together; jam often comes together without sugar, but what makes it a conserve is that sugar is definitely an ingredient.
Preserves: Jam or conserves with seeds.
Jelly: Made from fruit juice only, no fruit or fruit bit content.
Fruit butter: Seedless fruit cooked to spreadable consistency, containing no pectin or other gel-activating agent; normally made from pitted stone fruits (mango, plum, apricot), pumpkin, apples, or pears.
Curds: As in lemon, lime, or orange... Contain sugar and eggs with the rind and juice of a fruit and cooked slowly over a bain marie until thick and creamy.
Marmalade: A citrus-based preserve, often containing the rind; caramelized onion marmalade is a common find these days, but to be totally honest, I'm not sure why it's particularly called marmalade and not chutney. I do think it's the only vegetable spread that is qualified as a marmalade.
Salsa and Chutney: Combinations of chopped vegetables and spices or fruits served together either raw (salsa) or cooked (chutney).

If I left any out that you're wondering about, drop me a line and I'll do more digging. You can also peruse a fine array of homemade, all-natural jams, fruit butters, and preserves here.

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