What exactly are you eating? : The differing types of confiture.

You have something spread on your toast or inside your PB&J, but what is it?  What are you eating? Is it a jelly? A jam? Some preserves or conserves? Marmalade?  A fruit butter? A fruit cheese?  A chutney? We are going to help you find out!

All of these items are closely related in that they are made of fruit in some form. And generally, there is some form of sugar involved, be it cane sugar, honey, or fruit sugars. And there may or may not be a gelling agent such as pectin or agar agar.

So let’s start at the beginning. Is it a jelly or a jam?  Jellies are gels made from fruit juices. There are no solids or chunks of fruit in them.  If you hold them up to the light you should be able to see right through them.  Jams, on the other hand, have small chunks of fruit suspended in a gel. You may or may not be able to see through them but you will be able to see the fruit bits.  *Special note: Jelly does not contain gelatin (an animal product) and is safe for vegetarians and vegans. The confusion comes from the term Jelly being used in Great Britain instead of the brand name Jell-O which does contain gelatin. * 

Ok, that was simple enough, let’s tackle preserves and conserves.  Preserves are a type of jam that contains whole fruits (if they are small such as berries) or large chunks of fruit in a thick sugar syrup. Preserves can be almost runny at times and be used as sauces.  Conserves, on the other hand, are jams made from a mixture of fruits and also contain nuts and dried fruits such as raisins.

Marmalades are made from whole citrus fruits that are sliced and slowly cooked down, peel, and all. All citrus fruits can be used to create marmalades and the popular ones are orange, blood orange, lemon, tangerine, and grapefruit. The use of the peel in the marmalade gives it a distinct bitterness and candy-like bite.

Fruit butters or fruit spreads are made from pulped fruit and have no added sugars. The pulp is cooked down until it is very thick and rich and the sweetness comes from the natural sugars in the fruit concentrating, just like how dried fruit is sweeter than fresh fruit.  Fruit cheeses are fruit butters that have additional sugars added and that have been cooked to be very stiff and are molded into shapes and sliced to serve.

Chutneys are our last category. Chutneys are a combination of fruits, vinegars, sugars, and spices and can be very savory and spicy. These are often served with Indian food and are a fantastic addition to a hearty meat dish.

So now you know the differences and can make tasty decisions when selecting confitures for your meals.

Happy eating!


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