Jams, Jellies, Fruit Butters and Curds; How Do They Differ?

All of the above can come in many different flavours; strawberry, lemon, cherry or peach, just to name a few. But how do you tell them apart and what makes each one unique? I’m here to help you know how to distinguish one from the other and the best way to preserve them.


Jams are made with crushed or more finely chopped fruit and sugar. A standard jam needs to be 65 to 69% sugar. Low sugar jams are now made on a regular basis, but they may not technically be jam once the sugar has been reduced as the high sugar content is a part of the definition. In any case, we call them low or no sugar jams.

Peach Jam


Jelly is made using filtered fruit juice with no pieces of fruit or insoluble solids present and sugar.

Apple and Rosemary Jelly


Conserves are jam-like products that may contain a combination of fruits and may also contain nuts, raisins or coconut (Gross, 1999 p. 99). Generally, conserves have large pieces of fruit visible.

Banana and Walnut Conserve

Fruit Butter

Fruit butter is made by cooking the pulp of the fruit with sugar until a thick spread is created. There are no pieces of fruit or peel visible. Fruit butter is often spiced. Like the jams, these can also be made with less sugar or sugar alternatives such as honey.

Apple Butter

Fruit Curd

A spread made from the juice and sometimes the zest of the fruit, sugar and egg yolk. They are smooth in texture and intense in flavour. These can be made with less sugar than regular curd recipes or no sugar at all.

Lemon Curd


Marmalades are made from citrus fruits and contain some peel and sugar. These can be made with less sugar than regular marmalade recipes or no sugar at all.

Orange Marmalade


Small whole fruit or uniform size pieces of fruit, such as peach slices, in a clear, only slightly gelled syrup (Gross, 1999, p. 101).

Pear with Cinnamon and Star Anise Preserve

All image recipes can be found in my book Sugar-Free Home Preserving.


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3 Replies to “Jams, Jellies, Fruit Butters and Curds; How Do They Differ?”

  1. Thank you the article is very helpful do you know where I might find other cuds other than lemon with I am in love with. Any help would be appreciated thank you Barry Bloom

    1. Hello Barry,

      I usually make lemon curd, as I have a lemon tree in my yard. I will accept your challenge though, make a different flavour, and post my results.

      Live well. Valerie

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