Since the early 1970s, I’ve often gone through periods of really getting down to the nitty-gritty of trying to plan and prepare meals for my family that are nutritious, contain all-natural ingredients, and are made from scratch. I’m also the jelly maker in the family, and with the popular trend of eating vegan, I’ve been wondering whether my homemade jam, jelly, and preserves are vegan and decided to do some research to find the answer.
Jam, jelly, and preserves are vegan since all ingredients are plant-based. The only exception is fruit products that are made with gelatin or jello as a thickener since gelatin is extracted from animal skin, connective tissue, and/or bones.
As the family jelly maker, an important consideration is whether jam or any type of preserve is Vegan. Below, I will tell you everything you need to know about what is in jam and other preserves so that you can find out whether you can eat it as a Vegan.
What Are the Main Ingredients in Jam, Jelly, and Preserves?
- Fruit – The primary ingredient in all jam, jelly, and preserves is fruit and all fruits are plant-based which makes them all vegan. No matter what kind of fruit, from apples to passion fruit, they are all vegan and a major part of the vegan diet.
- Thickening Agent – The most common thickening agents used in jam, or jelly are commercial pectin, homemade pectin, cornstarch, gelatin, jello, tapioca, apples, fruit pith, and chia seeds.All are plant-based except for gelatin, which is also the thickening agent in jello and is extracted from animal skin, connective tissue, and/or bones. So, all thickening agents except gelatin and jello are vegan. Preserves generally don’t need pectin.
- Acid – The acids used in jam, jelly, and preserves occur naturally in fruit. For those fruits that are low in acid like blueberries, the addition of lemon or lime juice increases the acid content. Lemons and limes are citrus fruits, are plant-based, and are therefore vegan.
- Sweetener – The most commonly used sweeteners in jam, jelly, and preserves are granulated sugar, unprocessed cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, stevia, and Splenda. All are plant-based and are acceptable to Vegans with the exception of sugar, which has been processed and all nutrients removed, and honey, an animal product. However, the use of Splenda is questionable as it is derived from sugar but has been altered and is not in its natural state. Click here to read about the 9 best sugar substitutes in jam or jelly making.
Ingredients in jam, jelly, and preserves that would not be appropriate for the Vegan diet are:
- Gelatin – extracted from animal products,
- Jello – main ingredient is gelatin, which is an animal by-product,
- Splenda – plant-based but not in its natural state
- Honey – an animal product.
Be sure to check any fruit products before you buy to make sure these items are not on the ingredients list.
Are Commercial Jams, Jellies, and Preserves Vegan?
Some sugar-free commercial jams, jellies, and preserves are vegan because they are made with all plant-based ingredients, making the finished product appropriate for a Vegan diet.
Just be sure to check the labels before you buy commercial jams, jellies, and preserves to make sure these ingredients are not listed:
- Gelatin- an animal by-product
- Jello- made with gelatin
- Honey- an animal product
- Splenda- another processed sweetener
Are Jams, Jellies, and Preserves From a Farmers’ Market Vegan?
Many jams, jellies, and preserves you would find for sale at a farmers’ market would be appropriate for a Vegan diet, as long as they are made with an approved alternative sweetener. But, again, just be sure to check the label before you buy. If pectin is one of the ingredients, then you are good to go. Only if gelatin, jello, sugar, honey, or Splenda is included in the ingredients list would you need to avoid that particular fruit product.
How To Make Your Own Vegan Jam, Jelly, and Preserves
The best way to be sure you are serving a Vegan product to your family is to make your own. If you use a recipe that only calls for fruit, an approved sugar substitute, and any thickener except for gelatin, you can be confident that you have a fruit product that fits perfectly into a Vegan diet. Listed below under Related Topics is a quick and easy jam recipe that would be perfect for the Vegan diet.
What Are The Ways A Vegan Would Serve Jam, Jelly, and Preserves?
Vegans would serve jam, jelly, and preserves in much the same way as a non-Vegan because there are many breads and dessert products that are not made with eggs or dairy, do not contain sugar, Splenda, or honey as a sweetener and are acceptable for use in the Vegan lifestyle. Here are some of those ways:
- On toast,
- On rolls, muffins, and biscuits,
- In peanut butter (all natural) and jelly sandwiches,
- As a topping for Vegan ice cream, cheesecake, and cobblers,
- As a glaze for tofu dishes,
- As an ingredient in Vegan cookies, cakes, and cake frostings, and
- As a cake frosting.
If you and your family are following a Vegan diet and want to be sure the jam, jelly, and preserves you are eating are plant-based and are an approved part of your eating plan, just check the label before you buy a fruit product to be sure no sugar, honey, Splenda, gelatin or jello was used as they would be the only ingredients you would want to avoid.
Do All Vegans Use Sugar In Their Diets?
There are two different groups within the Vegan community, some who use sugar as a sweetener and those who do not. The reason for the controversy is because the process involved in refining sugar involves the use of bone char and the result is therefore no longer a completely plant-based product. Some Vegans consider this a problem and some do not.
Are All Fresh Fruits Vegan?
All fresh fruits are plant-based and are therefore vegan. Most frozen and canned fruits are also vegan with the exception of those that are sweetened with sugar, Splenda, or honey.
Is It Possible To Eat Too Much Fruit?
It is very unlikely that a person could eat too much fruit for these reasons:
- Fresh fruit which contains fiber and water is very filling and most people are satisfied after eating one or two pieces.
- We all know that added sugar is bad for us, but the sugar found in fruit is natural sugar. Natural sugar is processed by the body differently than added sugar which eliminates much of the danger of causing health problems from eating too much fruit.
- Natural sugar contains both soluble and insoluble fiber that controls the amount of sugar absorption so that the liver is not overwhelmed by too much sugar at one time.
- Eating too much fresh fruit can give you diarrhea which helps eliminate the possibility of eating too much fruit.
- The high cost of fresh fruit is also a limiting factor for many people.
Is Fruit an Important Part of a Regular Diet?
Fruit is recognized as an important part of a regular diet because of its nutritional value. There is no cholesterol found in any fruit, and all types are low in calories, fat, and sodium. But, all are rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that provide health benefits by reducing the risk of many chronic diseases such as certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, bone loss, type 2 diabetes, and kidney stones.
All age groups need the many nutrients naturally found in fruit to maintain a healthy body, but it is especially important for children as they grow to have the benefits of a diet that includes fresh fruit.
Jam Recipes Perfect For Vegans
- 3 pounds Strawberries (washed, trimmed, and cut into 1″ pieces)
- 2 cups Pure Cane Sugar (Bone Char Free)
- 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
- Combine strawberries and lemon juice in a Dutch oven or other non-reactive pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes.
- Add sugar and cook 15 minutes more.
- Ladle or pour into prepared jars, wipe jar rims with clean wet cloth and add lids and rings.
- Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
- Place in a prepared area until completely cool.
- Store in a cool dry area for up to one year.
Makes six 1-cup jars.
A Quick Recipe For Homemade Freezer or Refrigerator Jam
- 2 cups prepared Strawberries (washed, trimmed, and chopped)
- 1/3 cup White Grape Juice (no sugar added)
- 1/2 cup Agave Nectar
- 2 tablespoons Chia Seeds
- Place strawberries and grape juice in a Dutch oven or other pot (not aluminum), and bring to a boil.
- Bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add Agave Nectar and bring back to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Use a potato masher to mash the fruit while it is cooking.
- Remove from heat and add Chia Seeds.
- Let stand for 5 minutes until thickened.
- Pour into prepared jars, wipe jar rims and affix lids, and set on a towel to cool.
- Once the jam has cooled completely, place in the refrigerator, ready to use for up to 2 weeks, or store in the freezer for up to 3 months. If frozen, let thaw completely in the refrigerator before serving.