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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Canning Jams, Jellies, Preserves, Marmalades, Conserves, Chutneys, Butters? What makes them different?


The answer is in the consistency and below you will see a brief description of each of the types of recipes we make in canning. You will also see more about how the fruit makes up that type of jar. In addition some of these recipes may add one special ingredient to change or create a new version of something you may be already familiar with that is in a category all on its own.

There are additional recipes that we are more familiar with beyond this list that you can do with fruit such as whole fruit canning, pickling, and salsa. Those to many are easy to describe. The types of jars below and their classifications sometimes become confusing.


Jam Consistency: soft spread, should be firm but spreadable, but does not hold their shape in the jar. Recipe: made by combining crushed or chopped fruits with sugar and cooking to form a gel. Some contain spices or alcohol. Pectin: Commercial pectin may or may not be added.  Type of fruit: Can be made with a single fruit or with a combination of fruits.  Visually: You will see “fruit bits” in the jar.

Jelly - Consistency: soft spread, should be firm and hold its shape in the jar. Recipe: made by combining fruit juice or acidified vegetable juice with sugar and cooking to form a gel. Pectin: Usually commercial liquid pectin is used but in some cases there are recipes using powdered. Type of fruit: made with single fruit or acidified juice. Additional Note: Pepper jellies contain vinegar for acidity. Visually: It will be clear, but in the case of pepper jellies you will see the minced peppers.

Fruit Butter Consistency: soft spread, thick enough to mound on a spoon and spread easily. Recipe: made by slowly cooking fruit pulp and sugar.  Spices may be added. Pectin: No pectin added Type of fruit: usually made with a single fruit but combinations of fruits are possible. Additional Note: some butters are made in crock pots and then canned. Visually: thick and velvety. 

Chutney -  Consistency: thick enough to mound on a spoon Recipe: combination of vegetables (onions and peppers) and/or fruits, (dried fruits are popular like raisins) spices and vinegar cooked for a long period of time to develop favorable flavor and texture. Chutneys are highly spiced and have a sweet-sour blending of flavors. Pectin: No pectin added Type of fruit: made with single fruit and usually apples or tomatoes or with a combination of fruits Additional Note: Chutneys once made should be left in the pantry for at least a few weeks for the vinegar to mellow and create a incredible symphony of flavor. Visually: chunky, seeing many of the ingredients.

Conserve - Consistency: soft spread similar to jam Recipe: made with a combination of two or more fruits, along with nuts and/or raisins. If nuts are used, they are added during the last five minutes of cooking. Pectin: Sometimes commercial pectin may be added. Type of fruit: most often made with a combination of fruits. Additional Note:  Because of the large population that have nut allergies make sure to note on the label that it contains nuts. Visually: you will see “fruit bits” and nuts either chopped or whole.

Marmalade - Consistency: soft spread, usually with bits of citrus rind Recipe: contains pieces of citrus fruit and peel/rind without the pith (white part) evenly suspended in transparent jelly. Marmalade is cooked in small batches and brought rapidly to, or almost to, the gelling point. Pectin: No pectin added. Type of fruit: made with citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes and sometimes paired with other non-citrus fruits. Additional Note: Marmalades are cooked to 220 degrees using a candy thermometer to create the gel. This is achieved by the sugar reaching a “soft ball” stage.  Visually:  Marmalades are similar in structure to jam seeing citrus peel woven within the fruit gel.

Preserves -  Consistency: soft spread, a true preserve does not hold its shape when spooned from the jar. Recipe: the fruit is preserved with equal portions sugar to fruit so it retains its shape. The syrup varies from the thickness of honey to that of soft jelly Pectin: No pectin added Type of fruit: usually a single fruit but could be made with a combination of fruits.  Visually: transparent, shiny, tender and plump (chunky) pieces of fruit.  

Additional comments are welcome! 

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