Living in Germany I almost exclusively hear "Marmelade" for any spread made of fruits including "Erdbeermarmelade", "Himbeermarmelade", "Aprikosenmarmelade" and so on. Only rarely I also hear "Konfitüre" or, living in Swabia of course "Gsälz".

Surprisingly when going out shopping this is completely different. We do not seem to have any "Marmelade" here! Instead there is a variety of "Konfitüren" or even a "Fruchtaufstrich". The latter is something I only read from labels on the jars but it seems never to be used anywhere else.

Is there a difference in the meaning from spoken to written German? Are there rules when to use "Marmelade", "Konfitüre", or "Fruchtaufstrich"? What would I ask for in a German hotel?


4 Answers 4


"Marmelade" and "Konfitüre" are words that differ regionally.

Roughly, Marmelade is used in the South and Konfitüre in the North (which is a general pattern for food words that correspond to Italian and French, respectively), although Eastern Germany may be exceptional.

The labels in the supermarket correspond to EU regulations:

In the EU, originally people from Konfitüre-Germany decided with English people that "marmelade" should never be used for non-orangey jams, because in English, this is how "marmelade" is used. When Austria entered the EU, it was (after a lot of emotion in Austrian newspapers) allowed to continue to use "Marmelade" for all jams, but there are restrictions on export products, and I would expect that in Germany, it is actually still forbidden to use Marmelade on non-citrus fruits.

"Fruchtaufstrich" again is not subject to the same strict regulations as "Konfitüre", so maybe the fruit percentage or the fruit percentage that correspond to the name on the label can be lower. I have forgotten the details.

So, in a German hotel, you could ask for either Marmelade or Konfitüre, but should optimally adjust to the local custom. Don't ask for Fruchtaufstrich.

  • 3
    I have only heard Marmelade when I was in North Germany.
    – mosaic
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 17:33
  • 2
    Actually for "Fruchtaufstrich" the fruit percentage is usually higher. The reason for this is AFAIK that the regulations demand that a minimum amount of sugar must be used (might be derived from Apendix 2 section II of the KonfV).
    – nd01
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 11:52

That distinction is mainly due to german and european product designation rules / foodstuff legislation: there are rules whether to use „Marmelade“, „Konfitüre“ and so on (don't miss „Konfitüre extra“ and „Gelee“ - and last but not least „Gelee-Marmelade“) depending on the raw materials: see the „Verordnung über Konfitüren und einige ähnliche Erzeugnisse“, especially Appendix No. 1 defining the different kinds of - hmm - jam? The german directive implements an european directive called (in german) the „EU-Fruchtaufstrich-Richtlinie“ (2001/113/EG) - (english version and more about this directive).

In real life (if you don't plan to produce and sell marmelade), you don't need to care about it (see Phira's answer). But the distinction has a serious background: It may be of interest in matters of quality, for example. „Konfitüre“ has to be made of fruit pulp / purée, „Gelee“ is based on fruit juice, so i suppose it's usually cheaper than „Konfitüre“. Because of this, there's also a set of defintions regarding the "raw material": Appendix No. 2 regarding „Ausgangserzeugnisse“ ("raw materials"?). So, from a consumer's point of view, the distinction may in fact be of interest.


Konfitüre is buerocratese, and is used by European law on products, see the answer by tohuwawohu.

Marmelade is the word we use in normal speech. To me using Konfitüre would sound either snobbish or very formal, depending on the context. (Note that I'm from the northern half of Germany).


This Wikipedia article in German answers your question. Here is my translation:

'Fruchtaufstrich' (fruit spread) is a spread made ​​with sugar and boiled fruit that doesn't fall in any category of the EC Directive 2001/113/EC of 20 December 2001 on "jams, jellies and marmalades and sweetened chestnut purée intended for human consumption" or German Regulation for jams and marmalades.

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