Jams, Jellies, Preserves, Marmalade, and Fruit Butters

By: Kim Beavers Email
By: Kim Beavers Email

Jam is made by cooking whole fruit with sugar and water until it produces a chunky, thick spread. Jam tends to retain more of the fruit’s vitamins and minerals.

Preserves are made by cooking whole pieces of fruit with sugar until it has a thick syrup base. Preserves have a more chunky texture.

Jelly is made by adding pectin to fruit juice to give it a thin, spreadable texture. Jelly tends to be sweeter than jam or preserves.

Marmalade is usually made from citrus fruit by using the peel and flesh of the fruit. It is a soft, chunky jelly with a unique flavor.

Fruit butters are made by cooking large fruits until they can be made into a pulp. Sugar, fruit juice and spices are added to the pulp until it has a thick, smooth consistency. Fruit butters do not contain any real butter.

Nutrition Information

Jams and jellies usually have a serving size of one tablespoon. Calories in one tablespoon of jam or jelly can range from 10 – 60 calories. Carbohydrates can range from 5 – 13 grams per tablespoon. Some jams now have 3 grams of fiber from maltodextrin in one tablespoon. All jams and jellies have 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein, and 0 mg of sodium.

Portion control is always a concern. To keep your jam and jelly calories from adding up, measure out one tablespoon per slice of toast. If you like to pile on the jam, buy a variety lower in calories. Also, don’t forget that if you put butter or margarine on your toast as well, that adds calories too!

Do I need to buy the jam with added fiber?

There are much healthier and more wholesome sources of fiber than maltodextrin. Instead of spending the extra money on a jam with added fiber, buy whole grain or double fiber breads to spread your jam on. My favorite high fiber bread is Nature’s Own Double Fiber Wheat. One slice has 50 calories, 5 grams of fiber, no artificial preservatives, and no trans fat. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids.

Do I need to buy organic?

Even after washing, some fruits retrain pesticide residue. If you are concerned about pesticides, then you might consider the organic jams and jellies. The USDA recommends buying “Dirty Dozen” foods organically. “Dirty Dozen” foods have been found to consistently carry much higher pesticide residue levels than other foods. The “Dirty Dozen” fruits include: apples, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, raspberries and strawberries.

Kim’s Best Bite
(Disclaimer: I have not tried them all; these are just some of my favorites.)

  • Kroger Reduced Sugar Preserves, no artificial sweeteners (25 calories)

  • Smucker’s Low Sugar no Artificial Sweetener Preserves (25 calories)

  • Cascadian Farm Organic fruit spread (40 calories)


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