I’ve never been that into jams and preserves. Like most kids, I used to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and occasionally I would have grape jelly on toast, but not often, and not for a long time. I did try Nutella in college and liked it okay, and I also had vegemite/marmite (See April 30, 2012 post) a few times, but these were far from regular events. While wandering through the condiment aisle in the Kroger supermarket in
West Virginia recently, I decided to change
this up. This store seemed to have an
unusually varied selection of jams and preserves for sale, so I snapped up a
few that I found the weirdest. As usual,
I’ll give some details about each one, and then rate them near the end.
Apple butter is a bit of a misnomer, as it contains no dairy products. It evidently exists largely due to its resistance to spoilage, which is superior to apple sauce. It was invented in the areas that would become
Germany, Belgium, and
The Netherlands in the Middle Ages.
Basically, they slow cook the mashed apples until they carmelize. My butter was the Kroger store brand, called
“Private Selection: Washington Apple Butter.”
It was a dark brown color, rather similar to vegemite.
Pumpkin butter is also not a real dairy butter. This was also a Kroger Private Selection, coming from pumpkins grown in
Oregon. It was, not surprisingly, a yellowish-orange
The Four Fruits Preserve was the lone import, as it’s made in
France, by a company called Bonne
Maman. It looked a lot like regular
grape jelly—purple. The fruits used were
cherries, strawberries, raspberries, and red currants. The last one I’ve never had.
I’d never heard of hot jalapeno pepper jelly, but in talking to friends, apparently it’s part of traditional
Southern cuisine. It’s used as an
additive to meat, like mint jelly with lamb, or on crackers with cream
cheese. The jar also suggests that I
sauté it in a sauce pan with baby carrots, as a side dish. Given my deep hatred of carrots, and general
unwillingness to cook, this one wasn’t going to happen. Also, it was unique among these selections in
that not only did I not have to refrigerate it after opening, I was
specifically warned not to, as the contents would crystallize. This one looked red, and pectin and spices were
added to the jalapenos. It was made by
Braswell’s out of Georgia.
Since I was in a hotel, with no toaster or cooking apparatuses other than a microwave, I kept things pretty simple. I had each jam or preserves on bread—Nature’s Own “Whitewheat Bread,” which seems like naming a car a “Ford Chevy,” but whatever. It was okay bread, and mild, so I could get the full effect of the spread. I’ll use the typical
U.S. scholastic system for
grading—A for excellent, B for good, C for average, D for unsatisfactory but
barely passing, F for failing, with pluses and minuses as needed.
Four Fruits Preserves: B+. Good. However, I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t pick out the individual fruit flavors. Nicely tart.
Hot Jalapeno Pepper Jelly: A. Very bizarre. At first I couldn’t decide what I thought of it. As advertised, it was both sweet and spicy at the same time. After a few bites I realized I really liked it, and it was the best of the bunch.
So there you have it. I liked all of them, and really enjoyed the pumpkin butter and hot jalapeno pepper jelly. I ended up finishing all the jars but the apple butter, as I ran out of bread. I would recommend any of these. But despite my enjoyment, I don’t think I’ll be buying these again very often—I’m still not into buying spreads and making sandwiches, etc.