With strawberry season upon us, what better way to celebrate the season than to mix up your routine breakfast or afternoon PB&J with some yummy strawberry preserves. Here in Louisiana we celebrate at the annual Strawberry Festival in the city of Pontchatoula, also known as the “Strawberry Capital of the World,” But is that jar of strawberry jam you just picked up at the store packed with more sugar than actual fruit?
In one of my recent “Love it, Like It, Hate it” segments, I address the best and worst of strawberry jams, jellies and preserves. After all, the only jam you want to find yourself in is when you get to the bottom of that empty jar, and not by any extra unwanted calories you just unexpectedly packed into your day.
Before going into my best and worst picks, I’d thought it be helpful to first explain the main difference between jelly, jam and preserves. All three are typically made from fruit mixed with sugar and pectin (a carbohydrate found in cell walls of most fruit that gels to add thickness). The main difference is the form that the fruit takes in each product:
- Jelly: fruit juice is used
- Jam: fruit is in the form of pulp or crushed fruit; texture is more similar to pureed fruit
- Preserves: fruit is in chunks or pieces, surrounded by a syrup or a jam
Grandma Hoerners Organic Reduced Sugar Preserves (Whole Foods)
- 30 calories – 7 grams carbs – 6 grams sugar — still made with real sugar, just less of it.
- Organic strawberries, organic sugar, water, fruit pectin, citric acid, calcium chloride
Polaner All Fruit with Fiber (Rouses, Walmart + most grocery stores)
- 35 calories – 10 grams carbs – 6 grams sugar (+ 3 grams fiber from maltodextrin)
- Juice concentrates (pear, grape, pineapple), strawberries, maltodextrin, fruit pectin, citric acid
Nature’s Hollow Sugar Free Strawberry Preserves (available online)
- 20 calories – 7 grams carbs – 2 grams effective carbs – 0 sugar
- Strawberries, xylitol, spring water, fruit pectin, citric acid (Xylitol provides 2.4 cals/gram)
DIY Swerve-Sweetened Jam by Elmwood Fitness Center Registered Dietitian Rebecca Miller
- 10 calories – 2 grams carbs – 1 gram sugar
- Real fruit, pectin, Swerve Sugar Replacer (Recipes for Pear Jam & Cranberry Pepper Jelly)
Smucker’s Sugar Free Strawberry Preserves (Rouses, Walmart + most grocery stores)
- 10 calories – 5 grams carbs – 0 sugar (+ 3 grams fiber from maltodextrin)
- Water, strawberries, polydextrose, maltodextrin, fruit pectin, locust bean gum, natural flavor, citric acid, potassium sorbate, sucralose (Splenda), calcium chloride, red dye 40
- Very low in calories with zero sugar, but made with artificial sweetener + artificial color
St. Dalfour Strawberry Spread (Rouses)
- 50 calories – 12 grams carbs – 11 grams sugar
- Strawberries, grape and date fruit juice concentrates, fruit pectin, lemon juice (no added sugar)
Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly
- 50 calories – 13 grams carbs – 12 grams sugar
- Strawberry juice, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fruit pectin, citric acid (no real strawberries)
Welch’s Strawberry Spread
- 50 calories – 13 grams carbs – 13 grams sugar
- Strawberries, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, fruit pectin, grape juice concentrate…
(Every 22-ounce bottle starts with half a pint of strawberries, about 4-5 ounces, but contains 3 types of added sugars to make up the rest of the 17-18 ounces in the bottle.)
For more details on this topic, watch Molly’s “Love it, Like it, Hate it” segment on WGNO New Orleans.