What’s the Difference Between Jam, Jelly, and Marmalade?

(Last Updated On: August 13, 2019)
What's the Difference Between Jam, Jelly, and Marmalade?

Jam, jelly, and marmalade are all delicious treats. You can add them to desserts to create a special dish, or eat them on their own to satisfy your sweet tooth. They are enjoyed throughout the world in a variety of different forms, meals, and flavors, and acknowledged for their rich taste and sweetness. But how much do you really know about them? Do you know what the difference between jam, jelly, and marmalade actually is? 

While the three terms are often used interchangeably due to their similar taste and appearance, there are actually a few distinct differences among these deliciously sweet spreads. So what sets them apart? Keep reading to find out more about jelly, marmalade, and jam, and how they differ from one another.

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What Is Jam?

In its simplest form, jam is made by boiling fruit and sugar to create a thick consistency. This paste can be enjoyed by spreading it on toast or adding it to different desserts, such as pastries and tarts. While the paste should be thick and contain pieces of fruit, like skin and seeds, it should be easy to spread and add to desserts. Some of the most popular flavors among U.S. citizens are strawberry, grape, and raspberry.

What Is Jelly?

Jelly is created using the juice of fruits and cooking it with sugar, water, and sometimes pectin or acid to create a transparent dessert that’s soft yet firm. To create the shape, jelly can be cooked with heat using a long-boil or short-boil method, followed by cooling it in the fridge. Jelly actually changes shape according to temperature, so when it’s chilled the form takes on a more stiff shape. Acidity matters as in order for jelly to form, a pH of under 3.5 must be present. The goal is to handle the pulp in a manner where it’s not over squeezed, so you can make a dessert that’s bright and clear. You can enjoy jelly with toast, add it to other desserts to enhance the flavor and taste, or even enjoy it as a dessert on its own.

Think you can name the 50 Original Jelly Belly Flavors? Take this quiz to find out!

What Is Marmalade?

Marmalade is a type of preserve where pieces of fruit or whole fruits along with the rind are boiled and cooked into a thick paste. It’s very popular in Britain, where it’s commonly eaten on toast as a final course in English breakfast. Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons are commonly used and cooked with sugar to make the paste, which ends up giving it a sweet yet sour taste. The most common ingredient used in making marmalade are Seville oranges, which are known for their distinct bitterness. The final consistency is thick with chunks of fruit that are relatively similar to the chunks found in jam. 

An interesting fact about marmalade is that it was named after “quince” in Portuguese, otherwise known as marmelo. This is because the dessert was originally made with quince fruit, which has been widely recognized for its many health benefits, including the ability to soothe burns, treat inflammation, and act as a laxative. Since then, it has become popular to use citrus fruits in the making of marmalade.

The Difference Between Jam, Jelly, and Marmalade 

Okay, so we’ve talked a little bit about what they are, but you still might be wondering about the major differences that set jam, jelly, and marmalade apart.

Generally speaking, the difference lies in how each of the spreads are made, and the ingredients that are used to make them. While whole fruits are often used for jam and marmalade, only the juice is extracted for making jelly. Jelly is also more firm and transparent, while jam and marmalade form a thicker paste that is usually eaten by spreading it on bread or adding it to pastries for a sweet filling. The pieces of fruit in marmalade tend to be thicker or larger, while for jam they’re more thoroughly crushed to the point of producing pulp.     

So there you have it, the differences between jam, jelly, and marmalade. Now you know your fruity spreads better than ever and will be able to tell them apart with confidence!

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