Difference Between Jams and Jelly

Difference Between Jams and Jelly

Bread is a staple in some parts of the world. In provides enough carbohydrates to sustain one’s energy. Some brands even incorporate essential nutrients to make their bread more nutritious. However, eating just bread is not as fun as eating it with fillings. Transforming simple bread into sandwiches make them tastier and more interesting.

Two of the most commonly-bought bread fillings are jams and jelly. Kids and adults alike love their sweet and sometimes sour taste. Though, it’s really quite difficult to tell them apart. What is the difference between jam and jelly? Which would be best filled into your kid’s sandwich? Which works better with bread?

This piece will uncover this curiosity, so you can easily recognize their distinction. Aside from explaining the difference between jams and jelly, it will also provide a background of how these two are made and what their similarities are.

Definition of Jam

Jam is a type of condiment. It is usually produced by pressing fruit or vegetable and sugar. Other jam brands may have pectin content as well. Pectin is a thickening agent that provides jam its solid structure. This condiment is often stored in glass jars, but some manufacturers are now using plastic containers for storage. Jam is also considered a type of fruit preserve.

The difference between jam and jelly lies in the preparation. Typically, a jam will have the juice of the fruit or vegetable it was pressed form and the flesh of that same fruits. Therefore, jams may have solid residues. A jam maker would crush the fruits or vegetables, heat the resulting material and add sugar to make its gooey texture come out.

Strawberries and other berry-type fruits are normally chosen to make jams, but non-berry fruits like apricot, apple, and peaches can be used for jam-making, too. A good quality jam should have soft and even consistency even in the absence of fruit pieces, should be bright colored, should have a strong fruit taste, and must be in a semi-jelly form.

Admittedly, fruit jams are the most popular kinds of jams. In Canada, fruit jams can be with or without pectin. If the jam is pectin-enhanced, it is expected to have at least 27% actual fruit content. If without, then it must have 45% or more fruit. If with pectin, the jam’s sourness can be enhanced by added acidity.

Definition of Jelly

Jelly is also a condiment. However, it can also be a dessert, depending on the type of jelly being referred to. It is often interchanged with jam because of the way these condiments look alike. However, their preparation has a slight variance. While it is made by crushing or pressing fruit and heating up the juice with a sweetener, an additional step called filtering must be performed.

This means that the fruit chunks that are present in a jam are not present in a jelly. Therefore, jelly has a clearer appearance, which makes it easier to tell them apart. To filter the solid fruits, a muslin or a stockinette is used; it is a bag usually made of cotton where the semi-finished jelly is placed until all the fruit residues are removed.

Therefore, in terms of texture, there’s also a difference between jelly and jam. A good jelly has a clear and sparkling appearance. It is tender that it quivers when touched but is still able to hold its shape when sliced. It also does not have a cloudy appearance, which happens when the filtering is forced rather than left alone until it’s naturally filtered.

In terms of fruit content, there’s also an expected ratio depending on whether a jelly is pectin-free or not. If it’s pectin-free, then it’s expected to have at least 62% of water-soluble fluids plus the remaining fruit, fruit juice, or fruit juice concentrate contents. If it’s with pectin, then it must have at least 32% natural fruit juice and about 62% water-soluble contents. It may also have acidity enhancers to compensate for the less fruit content.

Jelly is also the term used to refer to a dessert with a gel-like consistency. However, jelly (the condiment) is more comparable to jam.

Jam vs Jelly Comparison Table

To further determine the distinction between these two yummy condiments, below is a table with main differences between jams and jelly.

Basis of Comparison  Jam Jelly
Food type Condiment Condiment or dessert
Preparation Pressed fruit, heated with sweetener Pressed fruit, heated with sweetener and filtered with a muslin
Usage As sandwich spread and for baked goods As sandwich spread and for baked goods (except for tart)
Appearance Soft and even with fruit residuals Clear and shape-holding when sliced

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Jams vs Jelly

What is the difference between jelly and jam? The difference is pretty simple: the fruit residues. If you’d like a clearer filling for your sandwich, go for jelly (and combine it with peanut butter, if you’d like a transformed sandwich taste). If you prefer to dive into a sandwich with real fruits, use jam. Either way, these condiments transform your boring bread into happier and sweeter-tasting treat.