A couple years ago, I bought some really good Crofters cherry conserve on clearance at a grocery store. At the time, I couldn’t find much info on the difference between a conserve and a jam. Or any other sweet, sticky, jarred confection, for that matter.
But last night, in classic fashion, Ms. Fisher once again came to my rescue (2 years tardy, but I can’t blame her since I didn’t start reading her book until last month — and really, for that crime, I should be punished). Since I know the question of jam vs. conserve vs. chutney has also been leaving you wracked with night sweats and insomnia, I’ll share her answer:
In other words, preserves are kept whole, and cooked gently in heavy syrup. A conserve, however, is made from cut-up fruit, sometimes of two or three kinds, with raisins and nuts in it: a more exotic mishmash, often served with meats, as would be a chutney made hotter with spices, garlic, chilies, and so on.
“Jams” are like preserves, except thicker, with one or occasionally more than one fruit in bits and pieces, and “honeys” are even thicker, and very smooth…
…”Jellies” are, of course, the clear juices strained from fruit, and they depend upon natural or added pectin, or a judicious dosing of fresh lemon juice if they are too bland in taste, to attain and keep a delicate stiffness.
The basic way that conserves and preserves differ from relishes and pickles [and perhaps chutneys?] is that the first must be made only with sugar and the second with varying amounts of sugar or salt, vinegar, and perhaps spices.
I, for one, am glad I can go into the weekend with this all cleared up. What I’m not happy about is the fact that I am now two pages from the last in With Bold Knife and Fork.