Fruit Spreads

When is a Jam not a Jam, Jelly or Preserve?

fruit spreads

Think of all the recipes that call for either a jam, jelly, preserve or marmalade: jelly-roll, rugelach, sandwich cookies, used as a filling between cake layers such as in the classic Sacher torte, thumbprint cookies. This list goes on and on.

There is something they all have in common, in my opinion: they all are better for the inclusion of the fruity flavor the jam brings, but they don’t necessarily need any extra sugar. That’s where “fruit spreads” come in.

Most jams/jellies have a high sugar content and indeed sugar’s inclusion is part of the FDA labeling requirements. Fruit spreads are sweetened with fruit and fruit juice – not sugar – and while they cannot sport the “jam” title, I think they offer us more of what we often want – the fruit flavor!

You have to read labels. As you can see in the top image, the jar on the left lets you know on the front label that the contents are 100% fruit. There will be no sugar in that one and it will have a very concentrated fruit flavor. It might have other fruits other than raspberry making up the mixture, but chances are this tastes very raspberry-like. Taste test different brands to see what you like.

When you see the term “organic” on the label, that won’t necessarily tell you anything about sugar content. The marmalade-like orange fruit spread in the top image has no sugar. But look at this image below and read the left label. It’s organic all right, and even the sugar is organic but it is also the first ingredient, which means this is very sugary jam. Look at the label below on the right. No sugar. This product is the kind of fruit spread that I am recommending.

jam labels

You will often see recipes on Bakepedia calling for “100% fruit spread” and these non-sugar spreads are what I am referring to. Do not confuse these with “sugar-free”. As you can see in the label below that often denotes an artificial sweetener such as Splenda and I do not recommend them.

sugar free jam

Top Image: Peter Muka

Other Images: Dédé Wilson

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