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Jam or Jelly, What is the Difference?

Updated on February 4, 2016

Jam/Jelly doughnut/donut

Jelly/Jam donut
Jelly/Jam donut | Source

Growing up in the UK fruit preserve was commonly called Jam. Spread on toast or spread between layers of cake in a Victoria sponge, jam comes in a wide variety of fruit flavors and with or without seeds. Jelly on the other hand is an American staple for sandwiches or the inside a donut.

To complicate this further, Brits use the word Jelly to describe a type of dessert made by the Jello company in the US.

So what is the difference between Jam and Jelly?

Jam V's Jelly

The main difference between Jam and Jelly is the ingredients. Jam is made from chopped up or mashed fruit where Jelly is generally made from fruit juice.

American Jelly is visually clear and spreads easily. Jam is more of a lumpy thick pulp and may contain seeds.

Boiling Fruit and Sugar to Make Jam

Jam preparation
Jam preparation | Source


Jam is made by mixing fruits or berries with sugar then heating the mixture until a thick syrup is formed. Jams usually do not need as much sugar added as jellys because whole fruits contain more natural sugars than the fruit juices used to make jelly.

Jam Recipe by Mary Berry - (BBC Food)

1kg/2lb 4oz fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and dried
If the strawberries are large, cut them in half. Put the strawberries and lemon juice into a large pan. Heat for a few minutes to soften, add the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
1 lemon juice only
Once the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is clear, boil steadily for about six minutes, or until at setting point. To test if the jam is at setting point, spoon a little onto a cold plate, leave for a minute and then push the jam with your finger. If the jam crinkles and separates without flooding back, setting point has been reached.
1kg/2lb 4oz jam sugar
Set aside to cool for ten minutes. Spoon into sterilised jars, label and seal with wax paper and a lid.

Video - Mary Berry Strawberry Jam video

Jelly on Sale at a Farmers Market

Jars of Jelly
Jars of Jelly | Source


Jelly is made from only the juices of fruit, and contains no seeds or pulp. They have a higher volume of sugar added because the juice of a fruit does not contain as much sugar as chopped or pulped fruit. Another difference is the addition of pectin. Pectin is a cell tissue of fruit that acts as a thickening agent. As juices do not contain as much pectin thickeners are needed in the production of Jelly.

Lemon Jelly Recipe - Better homes and Gardens

4 Lemons
Finely shred enough lemon peel to make 1 tablespoon. Squeeze juice from lemons to make 3/4 cup. Combine peel, juice, and water; set stand 10 minutes. Strain to remove any pulp and peel; measure 2 cups juice mixture.
1 1/2 cups water
In a Dutch oven, combine the 2 cups lemon juice mixture and the sugar. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Quickly stir in pectin. Return to a full rolling boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.
4 1/4 cups of sugar
Ladle into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boil). Remove jars; cool on a wire rack. Makes 4 half-pints.

Blackberry Preserve


Other Types of Preserves

Marmalade - a type of jam made with citrus fruits.

Chutneys - a type of jam with added spices anda balance of sweet and savory ingredients.

Fruit Butters - can be described as both a jelly or a jam. Made with mashed fruit that is blended to have a jelly like consistancy.

Conserve - can contain fruits and nuts.

Homemade Jam

Homemade jam - lumpy texture
Homemade jam - lumpy texture | Source

Origins of Jelly and Jam Making

The origins of jam making in Europe can be traced back to the middle ages. It is thought that the practice of preserving fruit in sugar was brough back by Crusaders from countries where cane sugar was naturally grown.In the US early settlers preserved fruits with several types of sugar including honey and maple.

In 1940 the Food and Drug Administration established Standards of Identity for what constitutes jam and jelly. The types of fruits, volumes, ingredients and methods of producing are all identified in the Standards.


Submit a Comment

  • Ruthbro profile image

    Ruthbro 2 years ago from USA

    Jodah I know exactly what you mean!

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

    Interesting hub. Growing up in Australia there was always the conflict of the difference between what we knew as jelly here in Australia as opposed to what we saw on to from US shows. I could never imagine how anyone could eat "peanut butter and jelly" sandwiches. I eventually realised that our "jelly" was their "jello" and their "jelly" was our "jam." If any of that makes sense. I prefer chutney.

  • Ruthbro profile image

    Ruthbro 2 years ago from USA

    Thanks vocal coach! Nothing beats homemade jam and jelly!

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    What a great hub! So well presented. I'll share this for sure. Will be making both jam and jelly when strawberry season comes around.

  • Ruthbro profile image

    Ruthbro 2 years ago from USA

    Me too!

  • peachpurple profile image

    peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

    i prefer homemade jams