Taste Test: The Best Jams and Jellies

We taste-tested dozens of jams, jellies and preserves from the grocery store and online to find our favorites.
jam
Overall Favorite
meat and frites

Hurley Farms Apricot Jam The best-tasting jam we sampled came from Sheri Hurley, who decided seven years ago to make preserves with the fruit that fell from the trees on her five-acre property in Napa Valley, California. Today, the family-run company makes 10 different jams; Hurley's dad maintains the orchard, and her 16-year-old daughter helps out in the kitchen. Panelists liked the apricot jam's sweet characteristics -- sorbet and dried apricots came to mind. ($4.75 for a 6-ounce jar, hurleyfarms.com, 707-257-3683)

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Best Pepper Jelley
appetizers

The Ole Homestead Five Peppers Pepper Jelly Our favorite pepper jelly is a blend of green bell peppers, green chile peppers, jalapeņos, serranos and habaneros. We liked the balance of sweet, salty and spicy. ($4.50 for a 12-ounce jar, olehomestead.com)

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BEST STRAWBERRY
cookie

Zabar's Strawberry Natural Fruit Spread Cooks at Zabar's, a New York City gourmet grocery, spent years perfecting their formula, and they got it right. Our tasters liked the tartness and the "burst of strawberry flavor." ($6 for a 9.7-ounce jar, zabars.com)

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BEST BLUEBERRY
bread

Trappist Blueberry Preserve At St. Joseph's Abbey in Massachusetts, more than 70 monks make 26 kinds of preserves, including this divine blueberry one. We loved that it was packed with real blueberries. ($4.50 for a 12-ounce jar, monasterygreetings.com)

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MOST UNIQUE SWEET
lure burger

Jill's Jams & Jellies Dandelion Jelly Most people kill dandelions; Steve and Jill Phillips turn them into jelly. The couple sells 160 spreads; this one tastes, as one tester said, "like flowers dipped in orange." ($4.50 for an 8-ounce jar, jillsjam.com)

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BEST MARMALADE
Ham with mixed veggie rice

Welch's Sweet Orange Marmalade Welch's orange marmalade, made from bits of California orange peel, wowed our tasters. We noted that it tasted slightly chewy and was the most "orangey" of the bunch. ($3 for a 16-ounce jar, welchs.com)

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MOST UNIQUE SAVORY
burgers

Stonewall Kitchen's Roasted Garlic & Onion Jam The flavor might sound a bit odd, but it works. Panelists loved the "sweet-tart combo" of sweet onions, roasted garlic and balsamic vinegar. ($7.50 for a 13-ounce jar, stonewallkitchen.com)

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Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in August 2006.

 

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