Finding a HFCS-free jelly

>> Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jelly was going to be the surprising HFCS food of the week, but then I thought that jelly with HFCS - maybe not so surprising. I mean, jelly is sugar based, so it isn't surprising that jelly manufacturers might want to use HFCS to save a little money. But what do you do if you're a mom and you or your kids want a PB&J? Or if you want a piece of toast with a little smear of jelly? Well, fortunately, there are HFCS-free jellies and jams out there!

Most of the jams and jellies on my grocery store's shelves are loaded with HFCS, but I have found some exceptions. Most of the organic jellies, jams, and preserves do not use HFCS, and more and more brands are offering an organic option. I've bought Tropical brand strawberry and peach preserves that are just fine and HFCS free. One of my favorite non-organic finds has been Smuckers Low-Sugar (No Artificial Sweetener) Preserves. With less sugar, the fruit flavor is a little more pronounced than in the full sugar preserves.

One flavor - one of my favorite flavors - that has been exceedingly hard to find in a HFCS-free jelly is concord grape. In fact, I haven't found a HFCS-free concord grape jelly. I'm a bit surprised by that as it seems to be the flavor synonymous with PB&J sandwiches. There is a decent substitute, though. Cascadian Farm Organics sells a concord grape fruit spread. The consistency is not the same as a jelly, but it has a good concord grape flavor.

Or if you're really lucky, you have a mom who likes to make her own jelly and is happy to share it. I get the most amazing jellies from my mother - including kudzu blossom jelly made from the flowers of the kudzu vine. It has a kind of deep red-purple color and tastes kind of like a combination of strawberry and grape.

And my favorite - scuppernong jelly. My mom gathers wild scuppernongs (a wild grape closely related to the more familiar muscadine grape) or else gladly takes some that someone else harvested and makes a divine jelly that is quite unlike concord grape jelly.

You can also make freezer jellies and jams that have an amazingly fresh taste. They are a thinner consistency but really preserve the true flavor of the fruit much better than the kind of jellies that you can store in your pantry. I don't have it in me to make regular jams and jellies, but I think that I might try my hand at some freezer jams next year to preserve some of the wonderful fresh fruit of summer. The taste really is amazing!

Last, do you know what the difference between jellies, jams, preserves, and fruit spreads is? Jelly is made from fruit juice and has no fruit bits in it. Jam is made from crushed fruit and fruit puree and is generally less stiff than jelly. Preserves are made with large fruit chunks in a syrup or jam. There you go. They're basically the same, just getting chunkier as you go from jelly to jam and preserves.

So, if you're looking for a HFCS-free jelly or jam, head to the organic or specialty jellies and jams. Or, if you're an adventurous cook, make them yourself!


James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. November 20, 2008 at 4:38 PM  

The low sugar is fine with me. In fact, I look for it. I love preserves.

Mark November 20, 2008 at 4:43 PM  

Thank you for keeping up! I do appreciate it!

MizFit November 21, 2008 at 3:45 AM  

off topic but my new chant is your comment sentence:

ziti solves all of the world's problems :)

happy weekend,

Super Healthy Kids November 21, 2008 at 5:47 AM  

We love Smuckers Simply Fruit Jam. I wish I had someone to make us some homemade stuff though.

Lori November 21, 2008 at 4:17 PM  

Thanks for sharing. I've got some cookies on my baking list this year that will use jam. Now I'll know where to look. You've saved me the label searching. :)

Rachel November 30, 2008 at 6:52 PM  

We've really been going the freezer jam route. And if you leave your freshly made jam out at room temperature for over 24 hours before putting it in the freezer, the consistancy will be thicker.

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I remember once, I went to the mountain with some other people to visit a family of a friend, well they are peasants and they made this jelly, we learn how to make it and everything, it's very nice.

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Sam January 21, 2012 at 5:10 AM  

Perhaps you don't have it in your area, but Polaner makes jelly that is sweetened with only fruit juice (not refined sugar or HFCS). It is delicious!

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Anonymous March 13, 2012 at 7:01 AM  

yeah they just introduced 'smuckers organic' in our market, and CHANGED the ingredients on the Low SUGAR, (i know because like you i've bought them for the longest time as a hfcs free alternative to all national brand 'jellies')- now there are more 'fake' (read non jelly related) ingredients than before- still no hfcs. i'm looking for new jelly , or i'll start making my own.
mr. mom

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Anonymous March 27, 2014 at 8:27 AM  

Preserves, jams and jellies from Europe do not have HFCS. It's banned over there.

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