People are always stopping us in the street and asking us “Hey! Are you those folks from the TV?” and we say “oh, no no, that’s not us, you’re thinking of Rick Ross and Merida from Brave, but thank you.” The second question they ask us is “Hey! What’s the difference between jelly and jam?” Well, that’s more up our alley.
The process for making jellies and jams is roughly the same. The only difference between the two is that jams are made with fruit parts and jellies are made with fruit juice. Jams are cloudy and chunky and jellies are clear and smooth. When making any jelly or jam, we start with pieces of real fruit (you can make straight jelly with fruit juice only, but we don’t) and cook them down with the peppers and other ingredients. Right there in the pan is what will eventually become jam: pieces of fruit and peppers, sugar and pectin.
If you take that mixture and strain out the solid bits, you’re left with a clear liquid that is essentially the juices of the fruit and peppers, mixed in with the sugar and pectin from before. If you jar this stuff, then you’ve got jelly.
For the most part, we make jams. We have found that our recipes don’t tend to benefit much from the added straining step to make them jellies and we prefer to have the chunks of real fruit and peppers in the jam. One of the exceptions is our Raspberry Habanero jelly. In order to get all of the tiny raspberry seeds out, we strain it when we cook it and jar it as a jelly. That stuff is pure magic.