What is marmalade? Here’s a handy explainer

A blessedly brief description of all the different names used for fruit preserves.
(Silvia Razgova/For The Times)

This story is a component of the feature “Seasons of Preserves: Citrus Marmalade,” which is part of a four-part series on preserving fruit at home called “L.A. in a Jar.”

One of the chief questions I get most often when I give someone a jar of homemade marmalade is, “What is marmalade?” While Americans know jams and jellies pretty well, that’s not the case with marmalade (if you talked to someone from the U.K., however, they’d know exactly what it is). With all the terms flying around for fruit preserves, here is an overly simplified explainer for the next time someone asks you that very niche question.

  • Jam: Fruit matter, usually chopped, that is cooked with sugar and lemon juice.
  • Butter: Fruit matter that is pureed until smooth before being cooked with sugar and lemon juice.
  • Jelly: Fruit juice and/or pectin (the natural thickener found in fruit) cooked with sugar and lemon juice.
  • Marmalade: Jelly with, specifically, pieces of citrus rind or peel floating in it.