Fruit preserves are preparations of fruits, vegetables and sugar, often canned or sealed for long-term storage. The preparation of fruit preserves today often involves adding commercial or natural pectin as a gelling agent, although sugar or honey may be used as well. The ingredients used and how they are prepared determine the type of preserves; jams, jellies, and marmalades are all examples of different styles of fruit preserves that vary based upon the fruit used.
Many varieties of fruit preserves are made globally, including sweet fruit preserves, such as strawberry or apricot, as well as savoury preserves of vegetables, such as tomatoes or squash.
A chutney is a pungent relish of Indian origin made of fruit, spices and herbs. Although originally intended to be eaten soon after production, modern chutneys are often made to be sold, so require preservatives – often sugar and vinegar – to ensure they have a suitable shelf life. Mango chutney, for example, is mangoes reduced with sugar.
While confit, the past participle of the French verb confire, “to preserve”, is most often applied to preservation of meats it is also used for fruits or vegetables seasoned and cooked with honey or sugar till jam-like. Savory confits, such as ones made with garlic or fennel, may call for a savory oil, such as virgin olive oil, as the preserving agent.
A conserve, or whole fruit jam, is a jam made of fruit stewed in sugar. Traditional whole fruit preserves are especially popular in Eastern Europe where they are called varenye, as well as in Western, Central and Southern Asia, where they are referred to as murabba. Often the making of conserves can be trickier than making a standard jam; it requires cooking or sometimes steeping in the hot sugar mixture for just enough time to allow the flavor to be extracted from the fruit, and sugar to penetrate the fruit; and not cooking too long such that the fruit will break down and liquify. This process can also be achieved by spreading the dry sugar over raw fruit in layers, and leaving for several hours to steep into the fruit, then just heating the resulting mixture only to bring to the setting point. As a result of this minimal cooking, some fruits are not particularly suitable for making into conserves, because they require cooking for longer periods to avoid issues such as tough skins. Currants and gooseberries, and a number of plums are among these fruits. Because of this shorter cooking period, not as much pectin will be released from the fruit, and as such, conserves (particularly home-made conserves) will sometimes be slightly softer set than some jams. An alternative definition holds that conserves are preserves made from a mixture of fruits and/or vegetables. Conserves may also include dried fruit or nuts.
Fruit butter, in this context, refers to a process where the whole fruit is forced through a sieve or blended after the heating process. “Fruit butters are generally made from larger fruits, such as apples, plums, peaches or grapes. Cook until softened and run through a sieve to give a smooth consistency. After sieving, cook the pulp add sugar and cook as rapidly as possible with constant stirring.… The finished product should mound up when dropped from a spoon, but should not cut like jelly.
Fruit curd is a dessert topping and spread usually made with lemon, lime, orange, or raspberry. The basic ingredients are beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest which are gently cooked together until thick and then allowed to cool, forming a soft, smooth, intensely flavored spread. Some recipes also include egg whites and/or butter.
Fruit spread refers to a jam or preserve with no added sugar
The term “jam” refers to a product made of whole fruit cut into pieces or crushed then heated with water and sugar to activate its pectin before being put into containers. “Jams are usually made from pulp and juice of one fruit, rather than a combination of several fruits. Berries and other small fruits are most frequently used, though larger fruits such as apricots, peaches, or plums cut into small pieces or crushed are also used for jams. Good jam has a soft even consistency without distinct pieces of fruit, a bright color, a good fruit flavor and a semi-jellied texture that is easy to spread but has no free liquid.” Freezer jam is uncooked (or cooked less than 5 minutes), then stored frozen.
Jelly refers to a clear or translucent fruit spread made from sweetened fruit (or vegetable) juice and is set by using its naturally occurring pectin, and jelly refers to a gelatin-based dessert. Additional pectin may be added where the original fruit does not supply enough, for example with grapes.Jelly can be made from sweet, savory or hot ingredients. It is made by a process similar to that used for making jam, with the additional step of filtering out the fruit pulp after the initial heating. A muslin or stockinette “jelly bag” is traditionally used as a filter, suspended by string over a bowl to allow the straining to occur gently under gravity. It is important not to attempt to force the straining process, for example by squeezing the mass of fruit in the muslin, or the clarity of the resulting jelly will be compromised. Jelly can come in a variety of flavors such as grape jelly, strawberry jelly, hot chile pepper, and others. It is typically eaten with a variety of foods. This includes jelly with toast, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “Good jelly is clear and sparkling and has a fresh flavor of the fruit from which it is made. It is tender enough to quiver when moved, but holds angles when cut.
EXTRACTING JUICE — Pectin is best extracted from the fruit by heat, therefore cook the fruit until soft before straining to obtain the juice … Pour cooked fruit into a jelly bag which has been wrung out of cold water. Hang up and let drain. When dripping has ceased the bag may be squeezed to remove remaining juice, but this may cause cloudy jelly.”
Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits boiled with sugar and water. It can be produced from lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins, sweet oranges, bergamots and other citrus fruits, or any combination thereof. The benchmark citrus fruit for marmalade production in Britain is the Spanish Seville orange, Citrus aurantium var. aurantium, prized for its high pectin content, which gives a good set. The peel has a distinctive bitter taste which it imparts to the preserve. In America marmalade is sweet. Marmalade is generally distinguished from jam by its fruit peel.