First developed as a clever way to preserve fruit, jams, jellies and marmalades are all subtle variations on the same sweet theme.
Three of a Kind
Jellies, jams and marmalades are all made by a similar process that transforms cooked fruit into a gel. With jelly, however, the cooked fruit is strained and only the juice is allowed to set. Marmalades typically refer to preserves made from citrus fruits.
Getting preserves to set properly is a tricky balancing act involving sugars, acids and gel-inducing pectin. All three substances exist naturally in fruit, but for the mixture to set properly, each must be in proper balance. Sugar and sometimes pectin are added to entice a proper set.
Jam making first emerged in the Middle East as a method of preserving fruit. Crusaders carried jams westward to Europe. But because sugar was expensive, fruit preserves remained the private reserve of the wealthy for centuries.