A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

What's the difference between jelly and jam?

November 24, 1995

Dear Cecil:

This question has been keeping me up all night. What is the difference between jam, jelly, marmalade, preserves, and butter as in apple and peanut? Why don't we see any peanut jam or orange jelly?

Cecil replies:

You're going to sleep like a baby tonight, kid. Jelly is made from fruit juice and so has no fruit bits. Jam is made by boiling fruit and does have fruit bits. Preserves are basically the same as jam unless you buy them from Smucker's, in which case if it's got seeds in it it's preserves and if it doesn't it's jam. Marmalade typically is a citrus-based preserve, sometimes containing the rind, but other fruits can be used. Apple and peanut butter are called that because they bear a resemblance to dairy butter. But if you want to call it apple jam (as opposed to apple jelly, which is made from juice), fine by me.

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