Most jams, jellies, and preserves do not contain any animal ingredients. The only thing that would make them unsuitable for some vegans is if the sugar ingredient is processed with bone char. As a vegan, I personally do not avoid refined sugars in products made by others regardless of its possible source. However, I do choose to buy and bake with vegan sugar at home.
While I know there is a difference between jam, jelly, and preserves, I do tend to use the words interchangeably. I almost always say jelly, as in peanut butter and jelly, but I almost always mean preserves, because I like those the most. Here's the official difference.
Jelly, jam, and preserves are all made from fruit mixed with sugar and pectin. The difference between them comes in the form that the fruit takes.
•In jelly, the fruit comes in the form of fruit juice.
•In jam, the fruit comes in the form of fruit pulp or crushed fruit.
•In preserves, the fruit comes in the form of fruit chunks in a syrup or a jam.
I grew up in Southern California where my favorite jam was always readily available, Knotts Berry Farm's Strawberry Preserves. I never was a fan of the traditional grape jelly, but I liked just about every fruit jam or preserve Knotts made. If it was Knotts, I'd even tolerate the grape one. I still get excited when I go to restaurants and see little packets of Knotts jam on the table.
Interesting factoid: According to the Knotts website, all boysenberries in the world can trace their roots back to Knott's Berry Farm because Walter Knott was the first to successfully produce a boysenberry fruit, which is a cross between a raspberry, a loganberry, and a blackberry.
Unfortunately, Knotts' foods are not the healthiest. Knotts uses both sugar and high fructose corn syrup in its preserves to make them wicked sweet. Quite a few years ago, I moved away from Knotts jams, even the Light Strawberry Preserves, which went a little easier on the sugar. It was easy because I found St. Dalfours, a French company that produces delicious preserves with no added sugar!
St. Dalfours only sweetens its preserves with fruit juice concentrate, primarily from grapes. St. Dalfours labels their preserves as conserves. There are two ways the term 'conserve' is typically used; referring to mixtures of more than one fruit, and referring to a thickly stewed preserve.
St. Dalfours really has an interesting mix of flavors, and some of their jams do have fruit combos beyond the use of grape juice concentrate as a sweetener. Some of my favorites: Strawberry, Black Cherry, Black Raspberry, Pineapple & Mango, Red Raspberry & Pomegranate, and Wild Blueberry. They also have Royal Fig, Kumquat, Gourmet Pear, and Black Currant and several others. You know, I think the one common flavor that they don't have is grape! Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, grape jelly fans.
But I don't want to crush your purple-loving hearts, so I'll give you something of a referral. Try Cascadian Farms Organic Concord Grape Fruit Spread. They still use sugar in this product, but fruit spread is generally reduced-calorie and made with fruit juice concentrate and low-calorie sweeteners replacing all or part of the sugar. I've not tried it myself, so I won't rank it, but I do like a lot of Cascadian Farms products. They are a vegan-friendly company with lots of healthier and organic food options. Sprouts and Whole Foods carry Cascadian Farms products. Frys Marketplace carries some too.
St. Dalfours Fruit Conserves
***** awesome! Highly recommended.
**** hey, this is pretty dang good.
*** not bad at all.
* bad. Keep looking for alternatives.
[St. Dalfours can be found at Whole Foods, Sprouts, AJs Fine Foods, Online, and several other mainstream grocery stores, I just cannot remember exactly where else I have seen it.]