The Italian word marmellata and the English marmalade derive from the Portuguese marmelada, quince jam (from marmelo, quince, which in Italian is mela cotogna). Marmellata is generic, i.e., it is used for preserves made with all types of fruit.
My mother used to make marmellata di ciliegie (cherry jam) and marmellata di pesche (peach jam) for which I provided labor: cherry pitting in the first case, peach peeling in the second. Both tasks were preferable to bean shelling (recently mentioned), because I could occasionally divert pieces of fruit to my mouth. One day, I asked my mother to make a batch of peach jam with only 1 part of sugar to 10 parts of fruit. I loved the result, which here would be more appropriately called peach spread.
This past summer, purple plums (prugne) inspired me to make my own version of fruit spread. And to add a local twist to it, I used lavender honey (miele) I bought at the farmers' market. As mentioned in another recent post, I am not a fan of pectin, so I let the marmellata di prugne simmer for a fair amount of time. For each kilogram (a bit more than 2 lbs) of fruit, I weighed 100 g (3.5 oz.) of honey (I also made one batch using 3 oz. of agave nectar for the most recent Daring Bakers' challenge).
In a saucepan, I created a well with the fruit and placed the honey in the central empty space. I brought the fruit to boiling point, then let it simmer, without stirring, until it was quite soft. I used a potato masher to reduce the fruit to pulp, added 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, then put the pan back on the burner for another, shorter, period of simmering. Once jarred, I stored it in the fridge. I have used my spread to make, among other things, delicious crostata di marmellata (jam tart).
2009 update: As a result of taking a conserve making class from conserve-maker extraordinaire June Taylor, I have substantially changed the process I follow to preserve fruit. I am still refining the method. The method I currently use is described in this post. To be continued.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the marmellata audio file [mp3].