Sunday, July 3, 2011

What's difference between jam, jelly, and marmalade?

Well, here goes the Allergy Dude again, down another rabbit hole.  I was in the store, doing my usual Sunday morning grocery shopping for my family, when I stopped to buy a jar of grape jelly.  I noted there were many choices.  I realized I did not know the difference between jelly, jam, and a marmalade.  Actually, add to that list: (apple) butter, preserves, and spread.  So here we go, into the world wide web for information.
Next time, I've got to remind myself not to ask these types of questions.  

The best summary is on wikipedia, again. Surprisingly, there was scant other actual articles with references available.  Briefly...
Jelly is translucent with pectin added.
Jam is fruit juice with pulp and pectin added.  Sometimes called preserves.  Spreads are jams with no added sugar.
Marmalade is a mixture of fruit juice, sometimes pulp, sugar, water, and pectin.
Apple butter is a highly concentrated form of apple sauce, from long and slow heating, until the sugar carmelizes.  No real butter is added.

That's it, right?  Not so fast, the Allergy Dude's interest is piqued.  I saw this product in the store - Welch's Natural Concord Grape Spread.  What's this about concord grapes?  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Grading Manual for Fruit Jelly Fruit Preserves (dated May 1980), "Concord jelly is considered the top-of-the-line" (page 11 top).  This document lists the standards for the product's essence ( the volatile flavoring materials added to their product to enhance the flavor and odor. It adds a "bouquet."), non-carbohydrate artificial sweeteners, carbohydrate sweeteners, consistency [grade A or B], color, and flavor [grade A or B].  For more on grading manuals, go to the USDA's website.  The grades do not appear to be listed on the nutritional labels, so the Allergy Dude is not sure if we consumers should hope that we are being sold only grade A food products.

So, to get back to the main track, the Allergy Dude recommends reading those nutritional labels!  Avoid all products with high fructose corn syrup and preservatives.  It does not have to organic, but may be.  Bon appetit!

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