When you track down a jar of Little Scarlet, it might be labeled as Strawberry Conserve or Strawberry Preserve. There is an explanation why, and it provides an opportunity to properly define the difference between jams, jellies, etc.

Ian Thurgood, Wilkin & Son Ltd. of Essex sales director, explains that conserve, preserve and jam are essentially the same (fruit cooked with sugar and most often pectin), although food reference books usually refer to conserve as a mixture of fruit, nuts and sugar. Conserve and preserve have come to be understood as better quality than jam, but there is no regulatory basis for that. The term extra jam, found on the labels of some European brands, is used when the jam is made of more than 45 percent fruit. Jelly is jam made with juice -- no whole pieces of fruit. Marmalade is jam made from citrus fruit, and it can be made with as little as 20 percent fruit.

Wilkin & Sons used to label jars of Little Scarlet that remained in Britain as conserve and those that were exported as preserve. To avoid confusion (a well-intentioned effort that, to my mind, may have backfired), they changed labels to conserve for the jars sold in Britain. The company is moving toward the sole use of the term conserve for the likes of all its Little Scarlet.

-- Bonnie S. Benwick