Jams, and Jellies, and Preserves…Oh My!

Summer is in full swing which means we have oodles of delicious summer fruit to gobble up! Get out your pails and get picking! Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! Strawberry season is just about wrapped up, and blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and peaches are just around the corner. One of the best ways to keep delicious Maine fruits in your kitchen all year long is to cook and store them as a jelly, jam, or preserve. But what is the difference? Let’s find out!

The Basics

Jelly, jam, and preserves are all made from cooking fruit mixed with sugar and sometimes pectin. Pectin is naturally found in fruit and is what makes jams and jellies firm up. You can add powdered pectin to get a firmer texture.


Jelly is clear and firm and made from the juice of fruit. Once the fruit is cooked it is strained so that only the juice ends up in the jelly. Many people prefer jelly since it doesn’t have any seeds in it. Typically pectin is added to a jelly to give it that nice bouncy firmness.  Jelly doesn’t always have to be sweet…here is one of our favorite recipes for a savory Pepper Jelly:


6 Large Peppers, the color of your choice
6 Cups Sugar
1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Packages  of Pectin


1. Blend half of the peppers and half of the vinegar.
2. Combine the pepper/vinegar mixture with the sugar, salt, and pepper in a saucepan.
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Add Pectin.
5. Continue to boil until thickened, stirring all the while.
6. Pour into warm, clean jars.



Jam is essentially a chunkier version of jelly. It is made from the entire fruit, which has been crushed and cooked into a pulp. Pieces of fruit end up in the spread and it’s not a uniform consistency like jelly. Think about a nice strawberry jam on your morning toast!



Preserves are similar to jam but contain more fruit—often whole pieces. They do not have the firmness of a jelly. How about some tasty Peach Preserves with a scoop of vanilla ice cream…YUM!  My recipe:


7 Large Peaches
5 Cups Sugar
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract


1. Peel and cut the peaches in to chunks.
2. Add the chunks, lemon juice, and sugar to a saucepan.
3. Bring to boil until the sugar is dissolved, stirring all the time.
4. Reduce heat to a slow boil.  Fruit will become clear and thick after about 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Remove any foam that develops (the liquid will be clear).
5. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.
6. Pour into warm, clean jars.

Whichever option you prefer, having some yummy Maine fruit to spread on your morning toast all year long is a real treat! If you are new to canning or preserving, here is a great visual guide to get you started!


*Images courtesy of: