It isn’t often that a writer sets out to talk about inconsequential things. No, we chase the important stuff with BIG HEADLINES. But I have had enough of important stuff as it mostly has to do with Covid, death and politics. So I went on a search to write about something unimportant that was useful, comforting and delicious. I came up with one thing.
Jam. Now this is a candidate for indulgence during lockdown, one that won’t have you end up as big as a walrus when home prison ends.
I don’t know of one person who does not love the sweet and fruity deliciousness that brings your toast up to culinary levels fit for the gods and minor saints. You met jam as a kid and have kept on with it ever since, though jelly got in there too as the grape jelly that went on the after-school peanut butter sandwich.
So anyhow, I went and investigated jams to see what were the most popular, most delicious and best reviewed of the bunch. Almost all can be ordered online or delivered from your grocery store if you don’t feel like masked shopping.
Strawberry is the most popular jam in the US. Now there are a lot of lousy jams out there…mostly sugar, high fructose corn syrup, flavoring and pectin, but little fruit. A good jam should be at least 50% fruit. If you would like actual pieces of strawberry in your jam, try Bonne Maman’s Strawberry Preserves. You may have seen the jars of Bonne Maman around as they have that red and white checkered top. If you want to investigate their whole line, you can order a selection of mini sample jars on Amazon for $10.70. All are made in France but popular here: www.bonnemaman.us
Bonne Maman’s five most popular preserves are apricot, golden plum, raspberry, strawberry and lemon curd. All would be good on cream cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt as well as all kinds for bread, though jam will slide off naan flatbread…duh… as the spots on my desk will attest this morning.
Cranky Pants and I have found that Bonne Maman is cheaper in the stores than online. You may have better luck, but if you are in Costco looking for a deal, try Kirkland Strawberry Jam which gets excellent reviews, the only drawback is that it comes in a huge jar.
Now, about a jam that gets really good press. Every reviewer…there are lots of jam reviewers… says that when it comes to grape jelly, Smucker’s gets the prize. That will be my next scientific experiment, comparing grape jellies.
Back to popularity…important if you are making choices for people who are not you, usually known as family. Here are the US stats from most popular on down: Strawberry wins by far. See above. Next are grape, raspberry, blackberry, apricot, blueberry and cherry.
There are some brand name jams that keeping cropping up in the reviews and here are the ones to look for:
Tiptree from England. Their apricot and damson plum are in my fridge, the plum great on lamb rather than the dreaded mint jelly.
Crofters Fruit Spreads. The Morrelo Cherry gets five stars on Amazon with at least one person wanting to go for six. Have not tried this is as it is expensive, but if you order a pack of six, the price goes way down. Not a size for us: Six is too many for a geezer household and condo pantry, though they could make good holiday gifts if tarted up with wrapping and ribbon.
Last, the one that gets a spotlight, red carpet and champagne in the reviews: Sarabeth’s orange and apricot preserves which also has pineapple in the mix. This mixture of Sarabeth’s has won prizes and stars and is in my online shopping cart. Sarabeth’s is made in the exotic Bronx.
Now, about the sugar and the weighty walrus lurking within. Most jams have about 10 grams of sugar per tablespoon. Don’t need a tablespoon to get a flavor hit. Instead, a heaping teaspoon has about five grams of sugar. Try that in one of the low sugar yogurts. This homemade mixture has about half the sugar of the popular fruit flavored yogurts that have as much as 26 sugar grams.
Here are some low-sugar yogurt brands that would welcome a heaping teaspoon of your favorite jam plus maybe some berries and nuts:
Fage Total, Siggi’s Icelandic, Stoneyfield Plain Greek and Oikos Triple Zero which leaves some room in the container for you to add what you want.
Anyhow, I hope this foray into the inconsequential but delicious has inspired you to abandon CNN in favor of a cup of tea, a piece of toast, a spot of jam, all enjoyed outside somewhere, luxuriating in the inconsequencialness of it all.
Do not be surprised if there are more food columns here in the lockdown months, food for geezers who are living solo or in twos, mostly tired of cooking for 50 years and needing some easy culinary comfort while in home prison.
In my other life….before the gerontology degree….I was a cookbook author and had a syndicated column about food, so there is a bit of experience behind these columns. The curious among you can still find a cheap used copy of my Guerrilla Cooking on Amazon. And no, I don’t make any money from it…a writer’s eternal lament.
Now to order that Sarabeth concoction and see if it really is sunshine on toast.