The Difference between Jam and Jelly

While at the grocery store debating which type of fruit preserves to purchase, you might wonder what the difference between jam and jelly really is. What are the nutritional differences between the two, and which one is considered to be a healthier choice? While some may argue that fruit preserves are fruit preserves, that is actually not the case. In regards to jam vs. jelly, there is a great deal of difference between the taste, texture, preparation method, ingredients and nutritional value of the two. Depending on personal preference and nutrition facts, you will be armed with the necessary facts to make an educated decision; jam or jelly.


The main differential between jam and jelly can be found in the ingredients. Jam is made from whole fruit, including the seeds and skin. Jelly is made with fruit juice, rather than whole fruit. Both jam and jelly include the use of sugar, but because jam utilizes the natural sugars in whole fruit, it’s likely to have less sugar than jelly. However, this is not always the case. When in question, always read product labels to determine nutrition facts. Some jams and jellies may be made with low-calorie sweeteners, yielding a healthier product. Full of fruit bits and pieces, jam will have a dense appearance, where jelly will have a see-through appearance.

Preparation Methods

To prepare jam, whole fruit is crushed or chopped prior to cooking. Once the fruit has been prepped, it is cooked and mixed with sugar and water until pectin, a natural gelling agent that is found in fruit, is released. This naturally occurring substance is what enables the jam to firm up. In contrast, whole fruit is not used in the preparation of jelly. Jelly is made with fruit juice and the addition of pectin is necessary since whole fruit is absent. Sugar, or a low-calorie sweetener, is added to both products to sweeten the flavor.

Taste and Texture

Because jams and jellies are made from different ingredients and have varying preparation methods, it can be noted that they have related, yet distinct, tastes. Seeing as how jam is made with whole fruit, it produces a thick and chunky spread, full of fruit pieces, fruit skin and seeds. Because jelly is made from fruit juice, rather than whole fruit, it produces a thinner consistency. Personal preference will play a determining factor when it comes to which product has the better taste. People that appreciate a thick or chunky consistency and enjoy the more natural flavor of fruit, will likely prefer jam. However, those that enjoy a simple, thin spread with no seeds or fruit chunks, will prefer jelly.

Health Factors

Knowing what we know about the ingredients and preparation methods for jam and jelly, which would make a healthier choice? Because jam is made with whole fruit, naturally occurring vitamins and minerals are not compromised during the canning process. In addition, studies have shown that as the fruit is being cooked, pectin is modified. This modified pectin has been shown to help reduce an individual’s risk for developing cancer.


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