Posted by Bob on December 16, 2004

In Reply to: Jelly/Jell-O/jam posted by R. Berg on December 15, 2004

: : : : : : Can anyone explain to me the meaning of

: : : : : : "Time and straw make the medlars ripe"?

: : : : : : Why straw? And what are medlars anyway?

: : : : : : JC

: : : : : Medlars are a fruit which has to partially rot (bletting as I believe it is known) before it is edible. This takes time, and I think that traditionally they were packed in boxes of straw to allow the process to take place.

: : : : : DFG

: : : : Spot on as always, David. My edition of 'Trees and Shrubs' by F. A. Bush (I kid you not!) has:

: : : : Mespilus germanica (Medlar) . . . If the fruit is wanted it should be left on the tree until late October and stored until it appears in the first stages of decay; then it is ready for eating. More often the fruit is used for making jelly.

: : : : Since it's a UK publication, I presume 'jelly' equates to the US 'jello.'

: : : We have jelly in the U.S., too. "Jell-O" is the brand name of a popular instant gelatin dessert.

: : One of the frequent areas of transatlantic confusion. There are two types of jelly in the UK - jelly the dessert (popularly known as jello in the US, I believe) and jelly the set fruit preserve that you either a) have as a relish with meat (cf. cranberry jelly with turkey) or b) occasionally spread on bread and butter. Then there's jam, which is like jelly in sense b) but which is not translucent because it contains loads more fruit pulp.

: In the U.S., we don't call a dessert "jelly." That word is reserved for a sweet product whose chief use is as a spread. Jelly contains NO fruit pulp. It's made from fruit juice and sugar, with pectin to thicken it if the juice came from a fruit low in pectin. That's homemade jelly. Lord knows what's in the commercial stuff. The cranberry relish served with turkey is called cranberry sauce here. Jell-O served as a dessert is considered a form of pudding, or close to it. (How else would it be served? Well, you can make salads with it.)
: --rb

Looking at the titles, I was sure someone would have already quoted "That must be jelly 'cause jam don't shake like that." Said with a lascivious leer, of course. I did a quick Google, but couldn't find a reliable original source. Anybody? It's been quoted forever.
Anyway, in the U.S., we're almost totally consistent. Jelly is clear and wimpy and without pulp or interest. Jam is mostly fruit. But we do occasionaly hear "cranberry jelly." Jell-O is a registered trademark and a platoon of lawyers will remind you if you lower-case it.