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What is the difference between a butter and a jam (such as plum jam vs plum butter)? Is it just that a butter is pureed and a jam is chunky or is there more to it?

asked by melissav almost 4 years ago
9 answers 8630 views
Img_4597
added almost 4 years ago

My observation from eating and making these is that jams (like jellies) use pectin cooked with the fruit puree to thicken and "gel" them. Butters do not include pectin and are also generally made from whole fruit--usually not even peeled in my experience--passed through a food mill skin and all. The other difference by tradition (though some people leave them out) is that butters usually have spices added beyond just the fruit and the sugar, like spiced apple butter and peach butter. To make the butters thick you have to cook longer (without the pectin to help), which means they don't have the bright color and look of jams. Anyway, the lack of pectin means the fruit butters are more spreadable--they don't resist thickly the way jams, and especially jellies, do when they meet the knife.

Gator_cake
hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

added almost 4 years ago

A fruit butter is basically a reduced fruit puree. You literally just cook the fruit puree, some sugar, and what ever spices you want to reduce the water out of it. It has a very silky texture. A jam typically has more sugar plus pectin of some sort added to get it to gel, and is more finicky as far as following a recipe to make it is concerned. One year when my plum tree was especially productive I made batches of butter, jam, and preserves!

Ry_400
added almost 4 years ago

Awesome. Thanks. Now, of course, I'm wondering what the difference is between a jam and a preserve? I want to start canning and I'm trying to learn the lingo.

Gator_cake
hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

added almost 4 years ago

That's a more controversial subject. For the plums I just used chunkier pieces, and didn't add any pectin to the preserves. Jam and preserves are not really much different, but typically preserves have larger chunks of fruit, and jam is more homogenous.

Uruguay2010_61
added almost 4 years ago

Technically speaking, the difference between jam and preserves is the brix (amount of solids) I can't remember the exact numbers (I use to be in the jam business) but jam will have more solids than preserves. Butters, as stated, are fruits cooked for hours to reduce the moisture. They will even add juice to the fruit, such as in apple butter, to facilitate the cooking. Most good butters will caramelize do to the long cooking process to further add to the flavour. Your best jams & preserved are "flashed" cooked to hold as much fresh fruit flavour as possible.

036
aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added almost 4 years ago

Melissa you are going to get hooked once you start canning - fair warning :-) I made blackberry jam (chunky whole fruit, some apple juice, some framboise, pectin, sugar) and some apple pear butter (apples, pears, cider, chinese 5 spice, cooked forever and blended to smooth goodness) and blood orange marmalade this week. This is a helpful website:

http://www.pickyourown...

I also bought the Blue Chair Jam cookbook - her recipes are, well, more dedicated shall we say (read: long, they take DAYS) but I get good ideas and tweak them, and also a book called Putting Up The Harvest that Nannydeb got me has been a good resource. Get the Ball canning kit and the canning pot for sure. Fun!

Ry_400
added almost 4 years ago

Thanks Abbie. Now, of course, I want your apple pear butter recipe. I love the addition of chinese five spice. I think apple butter will be my first foray in the canning world. We'll see how it goes.

Ry_400
added almost 4 years ago

Thanks everyone for all of the explanations. I'm always amazed by the quick and informative responses on the pickle!

036
aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added almost 4 years ago

It was easy! Peel and chop all of the leftover apples and pears in your fridge :-) I had around 8 assorted apples and 3 red pears. I think I would like more pear next time. Dump them in a big pot. Pour in your remaining calvados (I am so not a measurer!) about 1/2 cup. Add apple cider to just come to the top of the fruit. Start simmering. Add about a tbs of 5 spice. I didn't add ANY sweetner until I blended it with the immersion blender, then I added maple syrup and brown sugar to my preferred sweetness. Then you just simmer and stir for a long time, over an hour, and then re-blend until it is silky smooth. Then I tried to taste it on toast and napalmed the roof of my mouth so BE CAREFUL. Can as usual - sterilize the jars, fill them, cap them, boil for 10 minutes then remove and let them rest overnight without messing with them.