jelly vs. jam

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 24 04:54:35 UTC 2012

OK, now that the jig is up, I might as well fess up--I posted the line
because I thought the CSM line was complete BS. About a month ago,
someone in another group posted the question, "What is the difference
between jelly, jam and preserves?" Given the context, it seemed
important to exclude gelatine-based jellies and aspics and restrict the
discussion to fruit (with slight extension).

Here's what I wrote back then on jelly:

"Jelly is generally a [fruit-based] product that's been cooked with
sugar and pectin, then strained and free of seeds and/or pulp."

For me, the classic distinction between jam and jelly is the respective
products that are traditionally made from black currants and red
currants. Black currants are either cooked down with sugar or ground up
with even more sugar to make jams. Red currants are cooked down with
sugar and water, then strained to make "liquid" that solidifies from the
high pectin content. I am not aware of red currants being turned into
"juice" first.

Well, it's all relative. "Juice" need not mean what it really means.
> 1.    Place the currants into a large pot, and crush with a potato
> masher or berry crusher if you have one. Pour in 1 cup of water, and
> bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the fruit through a
> jelly cloth or cheese cloth, and measure out 5 cups of the juice.
> 2.    Pour the juice into a large saucepan, and stir in the sugar.
> Bring to a rapid boil over high heat, and stir in the liquid pectin
> immediately. Return to a full rolling boil, and allow to boil for 30
> seconds.
> In a large stockpot, crush currants, add 1 cup of water and bring to a
> boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid through
> cheesecloth and measure out 5 cups of the currant juice.
> Bring the strained juice to a boil, stir in the liquid, boil for an
> additional 30 seconds, and then remove from heat. Skim foam from top
> and ladle into 5 sterilized ½-pint jars, leaving ½-inch of headspace.
> Wipe rims of jars with a clean cloth, top with sterile ring and lids,
> and process in simmering water for 10 minutes.

Here, "juice" clearly means "the liquid produced by cooking and
straining" fruit, but it also includes added water. This is not how the
OED looks at it:

> 1.a. The watery or liquid part of vegetables or fruits, which can be
> expressed or extracted; commonly containing the characteristic flavour
> and other properties.

The rest of the definitions for juice, n., are not relevant.

To make things worse, there are non-fruit jellies, such as onion,
garlic, mint and hot-pepper. In most cases, there is a fruit base that's
infused with the respective flavor, but one can also simply have a
cooked down vegetable with added pectic (and perhaps water). At least in
case of onions, the "jelly" seems to be a lot more like jam, as there is
often no straining involved. But does anyone refer to "onion jam"?
"garlic jam"?


[OT PS: Incidentally, two meanings of "juice" or "juices" appear to be
missing from the OED, unless they can be claimed to have been subsumed
under existing subentries: there is nothing on "juice" being slang for
drugs, especially stimulants and sports doping, and there is no mention
of vaginal secretions as "juices", although one could argue that the
latter is included under juice n. 3. "More generally, The moisture or
liquid naturally contained in or coming from anything." Juice, v., does
have draft entries for the use of steroids or other
"performance-enhancing" drugs. The same goes for juiced, adj. But the
noun is also used to represent the illegal/illicit substance in
question, plus there is the "on the juice" expression, which is
functional equivalent of "juiced up" and is parallel or "on the sauce"
for "drunk".]

On 8/23/2012 11:14 PM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> Just catching up here.
> If fruit juice comes from crushing fruit, and jam comes from crushed fruit,
> then does orange jam come from the rind left over when I am done squeezing
> OJ?
> If not, then I don't understand what any of these statements actually mean
> in the real world.
> DanG

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list