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Smucker’s (“bringing you the goodness of jams, jellies, preserves, and smiles”) and Welch’s (“makes the most delicious jams, jellies, and spreads”) are two of the biggest names in jellies and jams. And most of their products did well in our tests. But other brands – 365 Everyday Value grape and Bonne Maman and Trader Joe’s strawberry – scored at least as high. And Smucker’s Simply Fruit was just Ok.

 
Best Jellies And Jams?

Best Jellies And Jams?

Among the lower-rated products was the priciest one in the bunch. The label on Stonewall Kitchen, $7.05 per jar (31 cents per tablespoon), says, “Whole, sun-ripened, sweet strawberries make our strawberry jam an exceptional American classic bursting with memories of summer.” Not according to our trained tasters, who found a musty off-taste in some of our samples.

Ratings are based on how the products tasted plain.

Smucker’s and Welch’s are two of the biggest names in jellies and jams.

Smucker’s and Welch’s are two of the biggest names in jellies and jams.

Grape jellies.

The top four all have a strong grape flavor and are quite sweet. Differences weren’t very noticeable. The lower-rated Market Pantry is a losser gel and creates a gummy feeling in the mouth. “Concord,” by the way, simply refers to the type of grape used to make jelly and juice.

Strawberry jams.

Bonne Maman and Trader Joe’s have big fruit flavor and big strawberry pieces; Welch’s strawberry flavor has a hint of grape; Smucker’s seedless is thicker than most of the tested jams, with a uniform texture; and Smucker’s Low Sugar have some fresh strawberry flavor but is a bit sour and runnier than others. The lower-rated strawberry jams have off-tastes. Archer Farm lost points for a light medicinal flavor; Polaner and Smucker’s Simply Fruit taste a tad pruney.

. Polaner All Fruit is the only one with fiber

. Polaner All Fruit is the only one with fiber

Our experts also rated the nutrition of each jelly and jam- based on calories, sodium, and sugars-and judged the products good or very good. Polaner All Fruit is the only one with fiber (3 grams)

Bottom line.

The very good grape jellies taste similar, so choose by price. The very good strawberry jams have slightly different textures. Choose Bonne Maman or TraderJoe’s if you favor strawberry chunks; Smucker’s Seedless if you don’t’ like seeds. Try Smucker’s Low Sugar if you’re looking to limit sugar. And note that the words “all fruit” or “simply fruit” didn’t guarantee a tastier jam.

Talk the talk

·         Jellies are made from fruit juice and may include sweeteners, spices, pectin, or preservatives.

·         Jams and preserves (federal rules use those terms interchangeably) blend crushed or chopped fruit with the ingredients in jellies.

·         Spreadable fruits: No federal definition.

·         Reduced-sugar products contain at least 25 percent less sugar per serving than a specified alternative product. There’s no federal definition of “low sugar”, claimed by one Smucker’s Jam.

By the numbers

$167 million sales of strawberry jams and jellies last year. Grape jams and jellies: $156 million. Based on Nielsen data.

Ratings jellies & jams: all tested products in order of taste, within types.

 
Ratings of Grape Jellie

Ratings of Grape Jellie

 
Ratings of Strawberry Jam

Ratings of Strawberry Jam

 
365 Everyday Value:Organic concord & Bonne Maman Preserves

365 Everyday Value:Organic concord & Bonne Maman Preserves

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