You’re walking down the Jam aisle in the grocery store. You see all these beautiful jars filled with fruit spreads, but they all have different names.
Jam. Jelly. Fruit butter. Preserves.
“What’s the difference?” you think. Short answer? It’s in the preparation of the fruit.
Jams are made from cooking mashed fruit. That means you just mash it up and cook it down with sugar and pectin. Potato mashers work great when making homemade jam. For best results, make jams with soft fleshy fruits such as berries or stone fruit (peaches, plums, etc).
Jellies are made from cooking fruit juice. You can make jelly from any kind of fruit juice. You simply cook down the juice with sugar and pectin. When you see “jelly” on a jar, now you’ll know why there’s no fruit pulp or chunks in it.
Fruit butter is made from cooking strained fruit pulp. You can use a food mill, potato ricer, or even a fine mesh sieve. The most common kind of fruit butter you find is Apple Butter. The cool part about apples is that the cores provide the pectin, so include these when you cook your fruits. Once cooked, simply strain the pulp through your mill or ricer and then cook that puree down with sugar and spice to create a smooth spreadable treat.
If you like your spread with some fruit chunks, then you must love preserves! Preserves are made from cooking the whole dang fruit. All of. it. Just toss that fruit in with some sugar and pectin and the natural fruit juice takes care of the rest. We love a good preserve, simply for its beautiful presentation (and flavor!).
If you plan on canning your fruit spreads to preserve for later use, don’t forget to invest in a great Water Bath Canner!