Q: I am seeing on the jam, jelly, preserves counter in the store, the word "spread" on jars. How is that different from the others?
-- Genie Craven, Columbus, Ohio
A: In the general sense, jelly, jam, preserves and butters are all fruit spreads, although each is made differently.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has no specific definition for "fruit spread," but does for jelly, butters, jam and preserves. As such, what one maker calls "a fruit spread" might be another company's preserves.
To determine what you are buying, read the ingredient list on the label. Ingredients are listed in order of how much is in the product. If strawberries are listed first, before the sugar, juice or pectin, they are the main ingredient in that particular spread.
As a quick review, remember, jelly is clear and made with fruit juice, sugar and pectin. Jam is made with crushed fruit and sugar, with or without pectin. Preserves are similar to jam, in that they too are made with sugar and fruit, but usually in large chunks or whole berries. Butters are made by slow-cooking fruit pulps and sugar into a sweet, concentrated thick spread.
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