This morning my brother called me. He was enjoying toast with some of my homemade peach-vanilla jam and it reminded him that he recently had some lemon-pear marmalade that was out of this world. He gently suggested that I should make some when pear season rolls around. Definitely a good idea, as I like pears and lemons very much and already make several varieties of marmalade, as well as lemon curd, pear jam and pear butter.
This conversation sparked a little niggle in my head…something that had been bothering me. Recently I saw a cooking competition with professional chefs. I’m always intrigued by how they use ingredients. But one chef made a dish in which she included a peach marmalade she had made on the spot. I was appalled that she labeled what she had made as marmalade—as it didn’t contain any citrus—and even more outraged that the judges didn’t call her out on it. Why you ask?
Well, I believe in certain distinctions between jelly, jam, preserves, marmalades and fruit butters. I probably have a unique but fairly professional view on the topic, as my family owned a processing plant that manufactured jellies, jams, preserves, and marmalades (as well as fruit filling, peanut butters, and some other odd and assorted items). I’ve also been home canning for 30 years, and actually built a canning kitchen on the old screen porch of our cabin. I’m also an editor who is a stickler for proper terminology.
In my own head, which was confirmed by several other reputable and more objective sources, these distinctions include:
- Jelly: uses fruit juice, requires pectin, final product has no chunks of fruit at all
- Jam: uses mashed fruit, can be made with or without pectin, final product has some chunks of fruit
- Preserves: uses whole fruit or large chunks of fruit, no pectin necessary, final product is mostly fruit chunks
- Marmalade: uses whole citrus fruit, including the peel, no pectin, slivers of peel visible in final product
- Butters: uses fruit puree, no pectin, no chunks of fruit in final product
So, by definition a peach cannot be made into a marmalade. However, my brother’s recommendation of lemon-pear marmalade can be classified as a marmalade as it has citrus fruit in it.
Check back in the late summer/early fall 2021 when pears are at their ripest and I’ll give that lemon-pear marmalade a go…..