Jam vs Jelly vs Marmalade vs Preserves! Learn The Difference.

If you were like I was, you probably just call everything jelly, no matter what it really is. I hated being so incorrect with my terms – but it was not until I got older that I took an interest in cooking and wanted to learn more.

What Is Jam vs Jelly vs Marmalade vs Preserves?

I hope the below will help clear any confusion about what each of these are, and how are they most commonly used.

Here is a short summary, but you can also read more below.

  • Jam is fruit that is chopped or pureed and then mixed with sugar
  • Jelly is only fruit juice mixed with sugar
  • Marmalade is only citrus and includes skin and fruit and is mixed with sugar
  • Preserves are pieces of whole fruit, or large pieces of cut fruit that is mixed with sugar

What Is Jam?

Jam is filled with fresh fruits that are cooked with sugar to create a textured spread.

Jam is my jam. It is probably my favorite on the list.

You will typically mash the fruit, or crush them in a food processor. You can choose how big or small you want those fruit chunks to be. Add a little sugar and lemon juice then boil with some pectin to get that delicious jam goodness.

Jam if canned in airtight jars can be enjoyed for a few months when frozen and a few weeks if store it in the refrigerator.

Jam makes a perfect accent for multi-grain toast, our Nordic Stone Age bread, scones, and more.

strawberry jam

What Is Jelly?

Jelly actually has little real fruit value and is made of fruit juice and sugar.

It is not as easy to make at home as some of the other options here due to the process to remove the juices from the fruit. The straining process could be lengthy and then care has to taken when working with the jelly to not over process it.

Most commonly known as peanut butter’s best friend, jelly is a staple in most homes. Grape jelly, which is more wiggly and smooth than thick and fruit filled is perfect for those PB&J sandwiches, on crackers or toast and can sometimes be used to accent a cheese platter.

grape jelly on a sandwich

What is Marmalade?

Marmalade is a bit unique in that it is primarily available in orange. Marmalade is actually made from the entire citrus fruit including juice, peel, and rind. This is what makes it so chunky.

Bitter Seville oranges are the most common type used to create marmalade. You do not usually find these in the supermarket due to their bitter taste which most people would not want to eat.

Marmalade can also be used for scones, toast, and can make a great pairing for some cheese platters.

It is one of the harder things to make as there is a lot of steps required and can be a bit complex to get it right. The firm texture that marmalade often has is from the pectin that is in the rinds of the citrus.

orange marmalde in a jar

Marmalade vs Jam

You may be wondering why we do not just call marmalade jam, so wanted to clear it up. Jam is just fruit and can be many fruit types – mixed with sugar. Marmalade is only made with citrus fruit and includes all elements of the citrus and is typically chunkier than jam.

What Are Preserves?

Of all the spreads, preserves are the one with the largest chunks of fruit. Cherry or blueberry preserves may contain whole fruit pieces, while strawberry preserves may be large pieces of strawberry.

Preserves are fairly easy to make by combining the fruit with some sugar and allowing it to cook down in a pan.

Compote is very similar to preserves, but are usually eaten right away while preserves are more commonly jarred for future use.