Here is a brief introduction to the German fruit preserve law, the classifications and legally prescribed fruit content.
The official term for fruit preserves in German is Konfitüre (fruit spread). Yet, in German vernacular, you can find many other words:
Marmelade (engl: marmelade): Derived from the Portugese word “marmelo” (engl: quince). Most Germans use the word as umbrella term for all fruit preserves and jams. Yet, European and German law mandates that only citrus-based preserves may officially be called Marmelade
Konfitüre (engl: fruit preserve or jam): This words leans on the French la confiture and stands for jams with visible bits of fruits or berries. Today, it’s the common term for all jams
Gelee (engl: jelly): Fruit jellies can only be made from fruit juices.
Fruchtbutter or -mus (engl: fruit butter): Fruit butter, like Pflaumenmus, or Apfelbutter, is a thick spread made from lots more fruits in weight than what comes out as fruit spread.
German and EU law mandates the amount of fresh fruits that processors have to be use in the commercial production of jams, jellies and fruit butters.
- For most fruit jams, the minimum is 35% (350g in 1000g jam).
- For some berries, that may be too sour or inedible in their natural state, the minimum share of fresh fruit is 25% (this includes black and red currant, rosehip, sea buckthorn, and quince).
- For plum butter, the amount of fruit used is 140% of the final product, because plums are slowly cooked and thicken over time.
Most German, Austrian or Swiss quality brands use between 45% and 55% for all fruit jams. In contrast to many of the widely distributed US brands, German fruit preserves do not contain corn-derived sweeteners, just GMO-free sugar beets, fruit pectin as gellant and lemon juice as preservative. That makes all the difference in taste and texture.