Jams and jellies are made from fruit mixed with sugar and pectin. For jelly the fruit comes from fruit juice. For jam the fruit comes from fruit pulp or crushed fruit. Pectin, an indigestible carbohydrate found in the cell walls of most fruit, gels when heated with sugar in water and is what causes jam and jelly to thicken.
Jam is usually a thick, chunky, and fruity spread. Because it includes whole fruit it tends to have more vitamins and minerals than jelly. To make jam, fruit is cooked with sugar and water until it starts to soften and break up. Natural pectin is released with the long slow cooking. Some people make jam without extra added pectin – just relying on the naturally released pectin.
Because jelly is made with fruit juice – not whole fruit — pectin has to be added for it to firm up. Without the natural tartness of whole fruit, jelly tends to be a little sweeter than jam.
Fruit butter is puréed fruit that is cooked down to a thick consistency. Fruit, with or without skin, is cooked until it is soft, put through a sieve to remove seeds and skin and/or pureed, and then flavored, if desired, with spices or lemon juice. Fruit butter is cooked until it is thick and doesn’t have pectin added to set the mixture. Because fruit butter is supposed to be thick and sort of buttery it is usually, but not always, made with fruit like apples, pears, or peaches rather than “seedy” berries.
What About Calories And Sugar?
Jams and jellies are high in sugar in content. Fruit butters tend to be the winner in the calorie and carb counts — although it is possible to make or buy low or no sugar (or artificially sweetened) products.
Here’s some nutritional info:
- Fruit butter, 1 tbs: 31.14 calories, 7.7g carbs
- Homemade strawberry jam, 1tbsp: 50 calories, 12g carbs
- Smucker’s strawberry jam, 1 tbsp: 50 calories, 13g carbs
- Smucker’s strawberry jelly, 1 tbsp: 50 calories, 13g carbs
- Smucker’s seedless strawberry 100% fruit spreadable fruit, 1 tbsp: 40 calories, 10g carbs