Summer is here and my apricot tree is bursting and throwing fruit everywhere, and the apple and pear aren’t slacking either with a lot on the way. But what to do? Preserves, jams, chutney…how to decide? Recently when I was writing our new menus I revisited the concept of what exactly is a chutney versus a compote versus a salsa versus all the other related items, and in the process I came up with a culinary spectrum which starts with Jelly and ends with Pico de gallo. I think its interesting, so here it is…
Jam is a thick mixture of fruit and sugar that is cooked until the pieces of fruit are very soft. The texture of thick puree.
Jelly is a sweet or savory food gel, usually made through the addition of gelatin or pectin. Jam which has been filtered to remove pulp and make it clear is called jelly
Preserves differ from jam in that the chunks of fruit are medium to large rather than the texture of thick puree. Jam which has whole pieces of fruit.
Compote is a sweet cooked preparation of whole or cut fruit and sugar, usually more liquid in consistency than jams, jellies or preserves. Compotes may also contain spices.
Conserve is a jam mixture of fruits, nuts and sugar, cooked together until thick. Jam which has whole pieces of fruit and nuts.
Confiture is the French word for jam or preserves. May include candied fruit.
Marmalade is a clear, jellylike preserve made from the pulp and rind of fruits, especially citrus fruits. The name is also applied to various jams made tart by the addition of lemon juice or other acid ingredients. Jam with fruit peel.
Relish refers to any savory-sweet preserve of vegetables or fruits, flavored with vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices
Chutney is a pungent relish made of fruits, spices, and herbs. A sweet-and-spicy condiment. In temperate countries, chutneys are sometimes made using local main ingredients such as apples, peaches or tomatoes. Flavorings are always added to the mix. These may include sugar, salt, garlic, tamarind or ginger.
Salsa is a spicy sauce of chopped, usually uncooked vegetables or fruit, especially tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers, used as a condiment. Mexican for sauce.
Pico de gallo can be used in much the same way as other Mexican salsas or Indian chutneys, but since it is less liquid, it can also be used as a main ingredient in dishes such as tacos and fajitas. In Mexico, pico de gallo is better known as salsa mexicana
"fruit" is considered to include many things that are not ordinarily classified as fruits: "tomatoes, the edible parts of rhubarb stalks, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons and water-melons".
So for this year I’m thinking Apricot Preserves, Pear Compote, and Apple Marmalade.