Is Jam Vegan? Here’s What You Should Know
Jam is a sweet, fruity spread that comes in many different flavours. It’s popular for sandwiches, toast and baking, but is jam vegan? Keep reading to find out!
There have been a good few times that I’ve posted a jammy dessert recipe on this blog, only for someone to tell me that it’s not vegan. It’s a common perception, but is that true? Is jam vegan? Let’s take a look.
What is jam?
Jam is a spread, made with fruits, sugar and a gelling agent. It was originally made as a way to preserve fresh fruit and people think it might have been invented as far back as the 4th Century!
Jam has always been available to buy in glass jars but nowadays, you can find it in squeezy bottles too. The consistency of jam is very gel-like, which may explain why it’s known as ‘jelly’ in the US. Other variations of jam are known as conserve and preserve.
Why wouldn’t it be vegan?
Some jams contain gelatine, which is an ingredient used to help the jam gel together. Gelatine is made from animal bones so obviously, this ingredient isn’t suitable for a vegan diet.
Other non-vegan ingredients you may find in jam are honey and some e-numbers used for flavouring or colouring, such as carmine.
Is jam vegan in the UK?
Yes, jam is almost always vegan in the UK. I have never personally come across any jams in the supermarket that were made with gelatine or honey. Instead, UK jams tend to be made with sugar as the sweetener (sugar is vegan in the UK by the way) and pectin as the gelling agent.
These are the ingredients of popular conserve brand Bonne Maman’s strawberry conserve: Strawberries, sugar, cane sugar, concentrated lemon juice, gelling agent (fruit pectin).
And here are the ingredients of Hartley’s strawberry jam: Strawberries, glucose-fructose syrup, sugar, gelling agent: pectins, citric acid, sodium citrates.
Most jams on the supermarket shelves in the UK have very similar ingredients. As you can see, there are no animal products or byproducts in the above jam recipes. UK jam companies typically use pectin instead of gelatine.
What is pectin?
Pectin is a soluble fibre that comes from fruit and vegetables- the most common type of pectin used in supermarket jams comes from apples and citrus fruits. It works similarly to gelatine, giving jam its jelly-like consistency.
Which jams are vegan?
- Bonne Maman conserve. Bonne Maman’s fruit make all of their conserves with pectin and they do not contain any other animal products. I used their berries and cherries one to make my Cherry Bakewell tart.
- Hartley’s jam. Hartley’s state on their website that all of their jams are suitable for vegans. I use their strawberry one often, especially for filling cakes like Victoria sponge. If you’d like to learn more about this brand, check out my post: ‘Is Hartley’s jelly vegan?‘
- Mackay’s preserves. Mackay’s make their preserves with fruit pectin. Flavours include classics like strawberry, raspberry and blackcurrant, and more adventurous flavours like ginger, bramble and fig.
- Tesco conserves and jams are all vegan-friendly.
- Asda conserves and jams are made with fruit pectin so are suitable for a vegan diet.
- Morrison’s jams are vegan.
- Waitrose jams & conserves are all marked as vegan on their website.
- Sainsbury’s jams and conserves are vegan too!
Desserts you can make with jam:
All of the following desserts are free from eggs and dairy and are suitable for a vegan diet.
- Victoria sponge cake. Two sponge cakes sandwiched together with dairy-free buttercream and strawberry jam.
- Cherry Bakewell tart. Shortcrust pastry, cherry jam and eggless almond frangipane.
- Jam and coconut sponge cake. A classic school dinner dessert made with strawberry or raspberry jam.
- Mini jam tarts. Fill these cute, mini shortcrust pastries with any kind of jam you like.
So, is jam vegan? Yes, most jams in the UK are made with pectin, which is a vegan ingredient that is used to help the jam gel together. It is rare to find jam made with gelatine in the UK but do make sure to double check the ingredients before buying. Bonne Maman jam, Hartley’s jam and many supermarket own-brand jams are vegan.