What’s in a conserve….

In my attempt to overcome my fear of Pomona pectin…ok fear might be too strong a word, but let’s just say, the last time I attempted using it for a habanero jelly it was not only stiff as a board, but granular as well, Ugg! So I decided to jump back in and try something that might be a little more forgiving with using pectin…so I found a recipe for conserve.

If you are like me, I tend to use some canning terms pretty loosely like jam vs. preserves and vinegar pickles vs. fermented pickles. But I hadn’t really looked into making a conserve before until I pulled out my Pomona preserving book. And I thought to myself, well, looking at the ingredients, it looks like a chutney. So what’s the difference?


I went to my “Foolproof Preserving” from America’s Test Kitchen, and they have a super handy visual guide on pp. 4-5 showing all the types of  preserves including pictures and descriptions. Lo and behold, they describe the difference as follows..Conserve: “A conserve is a thick, chunky cooked condiment that usually contains nuts and dried fruits like raisins or apricots. Conserves can be sweet or savory and can be served with cheese, roasted meat or desserts” while Chutney is defined as “Besides fruit, vinegar is the key ingredient in fruit chutney. Spices and a touch of heat add complexity. Chutneys are most commonly served as a condiment”.

As I was using a Pomona recipe for pear, cranberry, almond and crystallized ginger conserve, they called for pectin. But the majority of conserves listed in the Ball blue book does not (except for rhubarb conserve recipes). I suspect the copious amounts of sugar and longer cooking time negates the requirement for added pectin, but it would be interesting to know for sure if this is the case. I just hope that I can make peace with Pomona after this recipe as I love the idea of using less sugar while preserving…