Jam vs. Jelly: What is the difference between Jam and Jelly?

Jam vs. Jelly: discover their Differences, Similarities, as well as their Pros & Cons. We also will answer some of your frequently asked questions and find which is better.
Jam vs. Jelly: Differences, Pros & Cons, and Which is Better?

Jam vs. Jelly vs. Preserves: The jam and jelly difference lies in the ingredients the two products are made from. Where Jelly is a sparkling fruit spread made from clear fruit or vegetable juice with added sugars and set with pectin, the Jam has a more pulpy flavor. Jam has crushed fruit pulp with added sugar and a little pectin for the gelatinous feel. 

Looking at the definitions of jam and jelly for clarity

What is the jam?

Jam is a sweet food prepared from whole fruit, sugar, and pectin. It has a thick consistency.

What is jelly?

Jelly is a sweet food spread prepared from fruit juice, sugar, and pectin. It has an elastic consistency.

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Considering the Jam vs. Jelly similarities for clearing away the confusion

  • Fruit, sugar, water, acid, and pectin are the ingredients that are common both in jam and jelly.
  • Though jellies are made from fruit juices and not pulp, some special jellies contain crushed fruit or pulp, just like jam. An example of such jelly is pepper jelly made from jalapeño. 
  • Both jam and jelly are used as food accompaniments.
  • Both jam and jelly are made from popular fruits like mangoes, strawberries, et al.

Does Jam or Jelly spread easier?

Jam is thicker and chunkier owing to the crushed pulp inside, so it is challenging to spread jam quickly. Contrary to this, Jelly has a smoother consistency as it is made from clear fruit juice. Hence, it spreads quite easily. 

Considering “jam, jelly and preserves” together for further clarity

The most significant difference between jelly, jam, and preserves lies in fruit in their manufacturing. Jelly utilizes the juice of a fruit, the Jam is made from mashed fruit, and preserves are prepared using larger fruit chunks.

Which is better: preserves or jam?

Both jam and preserves are meant for different purposes. For instance, it is always advisable to use Jam for sandwiches as it contains fruit pulp making it easy to spread and pleasant to eat. And with larger chunks of fruit pieces, preserves are better used in recipes or on sponge cakes and ice creams. 

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What is the healthiest jelly to eat?

One of the healthiest jelly to eat would be the one made with just the basic ingredients: fruit juice, sugar, and pectin. It is best to have an unprocessed and organic fruit juice as the basic ingredient. This means to avoid jellies that have added sweeteners or preservatives in them. Also, there are a few healthier alternatives for sugar and pectin, too, these days, with agave syrup and chia seeds as their replacements, respectively.

Why do Americans call jam jelly?

Over the years, Americans are accustomed to call jelly by the popular brand name ‘Jell-O’. This has left them with an option to use the word ‘jelly’ to ask for jam on their breakfast tables. The trend caught on and has now become quite a tradition in America. It is just that jelly is more commonly used in American households, so Americans habitually call for jelly on their breakfast tables, even if they want to eat jam at times. 

What is the best jam? (Ingredients)

Check the following from the ingredient list to have the best jam:

  • Non-GMO ingredients;
  • More of the crushed fruits as there would be lesser need to add sugars;
  • Natural sweeteners instead of refined sugars;
  • Natural citric acid like that of lemons than the artificial one; and 
  • No added flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
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Are there vitamins in a Jam?

If organic or homemade, jams could contain quite an amount of vitamins and other nutrients. Though in trace amounts, the least processed Jams contain an array of nutrients like:

  • Vitamin C;
  • Vitamin B2;
  • Iron;
  • Copper;
  • Phosphorus;
  • Selenium;
  • Folate;
  • Tryptophan; and
  • Dietary fiber.

What is a healthy alternative to jelly?

Honey lends an alkalizing effect to the body and is loaded with natural vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, and other nutrients. Though a healthy alternative to store-bought jellies, it is better to use it in limited amounts as it still is a sugar. Other options could be agave or maple syrup, especially for vegans. 

Is jelly or honey better for you?

When it comes to vitamins and trace minerals, both jelly and honey stand at par as per the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food-A-Pedia. That said, honey adds a little more calories to the body than the jellies. But it can still be considered better than jellies as they are needed in lesser quantities and have a low Glycemic Index than sugar.

What is the most popular flavor of jam?

Though people love eating different jam flavors like grape, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and more, however, as per the latest survey conducted by Statista, strawberry is the most popular flavor of jam in the US, followed by grape in the second position.

Tabulating the differences between jam and jelly for easier interpretation

IngredientsIt contains mashed fruit, sugar, and pectin.It contains fruit juice, sugar, and pectin.
ShapeIt doesn’t hold its shape and is runny and soft to scoop out.It holds its shape and stays firm while being scooped out. 
ColorIt has a darker and rich color from the fruit it contains. It has a lighter and clear color from the fruit it contains.
TextureIt has a sticky and pulpy texture due to crushed fruit pieces inside.It has a clear and sparkling texture.
ConsistencyIt has a thicker consistency.It has a smoother consistency.
Fruit contentIt carries more fruit as it keeps both the fruit and its juice.It carries a lesser quantity of fruit as it only keeps the juice from a fruit leaving its pulp behind.

Comparison Chart

Jam vs. Jelly: discover their Differences, Similarities, as well as their Pros & Cons. We also will answer some of your frequently asked questions and find which is better.

Comparison Video

Jam vs. Jelly – What’s the Difference?

Which is better – Jelly or Jam?

Though an individual choice, jam always seems to win the ‘jam or jelly healthier’ argument. This is because Jam is less likely to be loaded with sugars due to the added crushed fruit pulp. Contrary to this, jellies are comparatively high on sugar and lack the real thing: the pure fruit pulp.

Alex Stantor
Alex Stantor

Alex Stantor is a Sorbonne University (Paris, France) graduate in Philosophy and Data Analysis. Currently, he is an Author and Researcher at Difference 101, he writes articles/blog posts on topics such as "thinking differently" and "the importance of difference". Alex is a passionate advocate of diversity in the workplace and in companies, and diversity and inclusion in corporate communications. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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