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Discover the difference between marmalade, jam and compote

Discover the difference between marmalade, jam and compote

What is the difference between marmalade, jam and compote?

Although at first glance it does not seem, the difference between marmalade, jam and compote exists. Fruit and sugar are the main ingredients found within these three foods, but there are substantial distinctions that we often overlook. Knowing these differences is a way to make more informed purchases and to make the choice actually more able to satisfy our needs and preferences.

For example, did you know that commercially you can’t talk about cherry “jam”? You can have a jam only if it is citrus-based, while in other cases we would have a jam or compote. This was defined by a 1982 regulation, referring to the British tradition that the term “marmalade” is used to refer to a bitter orange jam.

Let’s go into detail and get to know the difference between, marmalade, jam and compote in order to understand how to orient yourself between unclear labels and often ambiguous denominations.

Ingredients and quantity: jam

At the regulatory level there are standards that regulate the denomination based on the content of the food. These standards have been established taking into account the percentage of fruit and added sugars, as well as all additives and preservatives that are allowed to be used. Summarizing the various regulations in force, we know that in order to be able to talk about jam the product must be formed by at least 35% fruit and 45% added sugars.

To know the difference between marmalade, jam and compote, it is also useful to know that, in the case of a jam called “extra”, the fruit content will have to increase. It will have to reach a minimum of 45%. In both types of product (extra and not) you have the possibility to add up to 25 additives.


In the case of compote, on the other hand, there is a clear reduction in sugar and a high concentration of fruit: at least 65%. Therefore, it is clear that, when enjoying a compote, the sugary taste is given above all by the simple carbohydrates contained within the fruit itself. Compote can only contain 4 types of additives and preservatives.


The jam must contain only citrus fruits in quantities greater than 20 % and at least 45% of sugars. Also in this case you can add the same additives allowed for jam and jam “extra”, or 25.

Another important difference between marmalade, jam and compote…

Now that you know the difference between marmalade, jam and compote, it’s worth saying that producers can make an extra difference. They can choose to make their products without additives and without added sugar . This makes the food more genuine and also tastier, and also increases its quality.

The “real” compound

In the case of compote there are other considerations to be made. These concern precisely the main difference between marmalade, jam and compote: the latter contains little sugar and a very limited amount of additives. To ensure a longer shelf life of the product (which with little sugar and additives would last less than others), it is prepared in controlled and sterilized environments. This allows you to extend the deadline, but not too much.

Therefore, if you are faced with a compote with an excessively distant expiration date, it will be important to carefully check the list of ingredients. In particular, the content of additives and sugars should be assessed. This check will help you make sure that it is a real compote and not a “masked” jam.

Now that you know the difference between marmalade, jam and compote, you can choose the right product for you!

On DF-Gourmet, in the section dedicated to jams and marmalades, you will find high quality and tasty products, such as those of the Alpenzu brand. Knowing the difference between marmalade, jam and compote will help you make the right choice for your diet and preparations.

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