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By Amber Frampton

Jam or jelly? Which do you prefer, and how can you tell?

Whether you prefer a slice of toast with jam and butter or a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, there’s no denying that spreadable fruit is a staple in most people’s pantries.

One thing you may not know, however, is the difference between jelly and jam. The most obvious difference is that jam has pieces of crushed fruit, while jelly has had all the flesh of the fruit strained out. Jams also typically are made of just one fruit, while jellies may be a combination. Jellies, due to their lack of fruit solids, almost always require the addition of pectin. Some jams, if the fruit is not one high in natural pectin, may also need some added. Pectin helps the jam or jelly to “set,” or have a gelled consistency.

Making jam

Jam is fairly easy to make, and requires minimal equipment. In fact, you most likely have everything you need in your kitchen already!

First things first, choose your fruit. Is it one high in natural pectin? Good, all you need now is sugar and some liquid, typically water or lemon juice. If your chosen fruit does not naturally contain a lot of pectin, you can find it at most grocery stores for $3-$4.

As for the kitchen equipment, you just need a pot big enough to boil your fruit and sugar in, and jars to store your jam. Jam jars may be found at craft or hobby stores. This jar will hold 12 oz. of jam and costs less than $3.

To make jam, you simply heat your fruit and sugar in lemon juice or water until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil until it reaches a syrupy consistency. It is important to remember that jars should be sterilized by boiling them before use to prevent mold and bacteria from flourishing.

Making jelly

Jelly is made by boiling fruit juice with sugar and pectin. Because there are no fruit solids, pectin is necessary for all flavors.

The equipment for making jelly is the same as for jam, though because you start with fruit juice, there is no need for additional liquid. As with jam, you dissolve the sugar and the pectin in the juice and bring the mixture to a boil for a few minutes. Once the jelly has boiled for no more than five minutes, it is ready to be poured into sterilized jars and allowed to set.

Pomegranate and cranberry jelly recipe

Now that you know how easy it is to make and enjoy fresh jam or jelly, why not try it out with this jelly recipe? You can use any fruit juice you like, but pomegranate and cranberry give the jelly a beautiful garnet color and the flavors balance each other very well.


1 ¾ cups pure cranberry juice

1 cup pure pomegranate juice

1 (2 oz.) package dry pectin

3 ¼ cups white sugar


  1. Pour juices into a heavy pot. Stir in pectin until fully dissolved.

  2. Bring juice to a boil over high heat, then stir in sugar until dissolved.

  3. Return to a full boil, stirring constantly for two minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and pour into sterilized jars.

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