Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Caitlyn . Caitlyn Wonders, “What is the difference between jelly and jam” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Caitlyn !
Do you know that special feeling of hunger that hits mid-afternoon on weekdays? It usually starts about the time the final bell of school rings, announcing the end of classes for the day.
It grows as you board the bus to head home. By the time you reach your bus stop and are ready to make the final trek to your front door, a ravenous pit has opened in your stomach. Only a delicious after-school snack will satisfy the hunger inside you.
As you burst through the front door, your backpack and shoes go flying in different directions. You race to the kitchen. Cupboard and refrigerator doors swing open. In a flurry of motion, peanut butter and jelly are spread onto two fresh slices of bread.
You sink your teeth into the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich you've had since…well…since about this time yesterday. A few more bites and your hunger subsides. Now it's time for homework. But first, you need to add jelly to the grocery list on the counter, since you just used the last of the jar in the refrigerator.
When your parents get home from work, you mention that you're all out of jelly. That's nothing a quick trip to the store won't fix! As you head to the aisle with the peanut butter and jelly, you think about what flavor you want to try next. After mulling it over for a minute, you decide on strawberry!
You begin to scan the shelves and soon make a surprising discovery. You find multiple jars with red lids and strawberries on the label. However, they have a variety of different words that come after strawberry. Some jars are labeled preserves, while others indicate they contain jam or jelly.
What's the deal? From the outside of the jar, they all look fairly similar. Is there really a difference between jelly, jam, and preserves? If so, what is it?
There definitely is a difference between jelly, jam, and preserves. It's a difference you can taste, and you can also see the difference between these three similar types of fruit spreads when you open their jars.
Fruit spreads didn't get their start long ago because people had an intense desire to turn their fresh fruits into sandwiches. Way back before refrigerators were invented, you had to take advantage of fruits when they were in season. If you wanted a strawberry in the winter, you were out of luck.
Over time, fruit lovers developed ways to preserve fruits so they could be saved and enjoyed throughout the year. Spreads made of preserved fruits became popular delicacies that could turn a plain piece of bread or a biscuit into a sweet treat.
So what exactly is the difference between jelly, jam, and preserves? It all comes down to how much of the original fruit is used to make each of these sweet treats.
To make jelly, for example, fruit is crushed to create juice. All solid leftovers are discarded, and the fruit juice is mixed with sugar and pectin and then heated to form the gelatinous substance we know as jelly.
Pectin is an indigestible carbohydrate found in the cell walls of most fruits. When it's heated in water with sugar, pectin thickens to form a gel. This gives fruit spreads their spreadable consistency.
Jam and preserves are made in a similar to the process used to make jelly. However, more real fruit makes its way into the final product.
In jam, crushed fruit pulp is left in the fruit juice to create a spreadable mixture after heating. To make preserves, small chunks of fruit are mixed with sugar and then combined with syrup or jam to create a sweet treat that usually has a fuller, fruitier flavor than either jam or jelly.
If you browse the jelly aisle at your local grocery store, you're likely to see a few examples of other types of fruit spreads. For example, marmalade is a fruit spread made from the peel and pulp of citrus fruits. Fruit butters are smooth, creamy spreads made by slow-cooking fruit and sugar for a long period of time. Conserves are thick, chunky spreads made by cooking dried fruits and nuts.