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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Jeff’s Famous Jerky

We’ve had Top Pick jerkys before, but they are few and far between. Even small-batch artisan brands can be too tough for us, and/or leave remnants of gristle.

Not so with Jeff’s Famous Jerky. Each variety we tried was melt-in-your-mouth tender, with exquisite flavor. When you can say jerky has exquisite flavor, you know you’ve hit the motherlode.

Jeff’s Famous Jerkey, of Mission Viejo, California deserves to be famous, especially for its eye-opening bacon jerky. Bacon or beef, the meats are marinated in deep, layered marinades.

Jeff’s produces more than a dozen flavors (below).

The beef jerky has lower sodium than most brands, with no added MSG or nitrates. The bacon jerky has less sodium than pan-fried bacon.

The only caveat with jerky in general is that it’s high in sodium (don’t buy it for anyone on a salt-restricted diet).

But it’s almost fat free, and it’s solid protein: One ounce has about 23% of one’s daily value of protein. Before we continue, check out:

TRENDS IN JERKY

And America wants more of this high protein, low-fat, grab-and-go snack that’s naturally gluten-free*.

America’s consumption of meat snacks has increased by 18% over the past five years, according to recent data from The NPD Group, a market research company.

House-made jerky can be found more and more on the menus of fine casual restaurants.

  • At Pakpao Thai in Dallas, the Salty Thai Jerky is one of the top-selling shareable starters, paired with a crisp lager or pilsner. The Massaman Curry jerky pairs well with wheat beers.
  • The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland, makes a jerky plate which includes smoked andouille jerky, pork curry jerky, black pepper beef jerky, dehydrated maple syrup and sriracha chips.
  • At Chapter One restaurant in New York City, house-made jerky is used to garnish for duck wings and Bloody Bull cocktails (a Bloody Mary with added beef broth).
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    Jeff's Famous Bacon Jerky

    Jeff's Famous Maple Bacon Jerky

    [1] Oh so delicious: Jeff’s Maple Brown Sugar Jerky. [2] Hot and sweet: Jeff’s Honey & Jalapeño Jerky. (all photos courtesy Jeff’s Famous Jerky).

     
    Jeff’s Famous Jerky is so tender and tasty, you can bring it to the dinner table and pair it with fine foods.

  • We really enjoy it with oysters on the half shell, and with ceviche or pan-fried scallops.
  • You can lie it across or at the side of a protein, crumble it on top as a garnish, or mix it into other dishes like vegetables and pasta.
  • Consider Spaghetti Carbonara (which has bacon in the recipe), Fettuccine Alfredo (bacon is a delicious addition to the cream sauce), or pasta simply tossed with olive oil, bacon jerky and shaved Parmesan cheese.
  • With beer or a hearty red wine, it’s a natural.
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    Jeff's Famous Beef Jerky

    Jeff's Famous Beef Jerky

    Jeff's Famous Jerky Maple Bacon

    [3] Jeff’s beef jerky. [4] and [5] Packages of Jeff’s Jerky.

     

    JEFF’S FAMOUS JERKY VARIETIES

    Jeff’s makes so many flavors of delicious, tender jerky that you won’t know where to start. (We suggest a build-your-own mixed box.)

    The flavors are variously spicy, sweet, hot, and combinations thereof. More importantly, they are clean, clear and natural, beautifully layered to imbue the meat with complex flavors.

    All are hormone-free, without added MSG or preservatives, made from American meats.

    Bacon Jerky Varieties

  • Honey Brown Sugar
  • Honey Jalapeño
  • Maple Brown Sugar
  • Sweet Cinnamon Roll
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    Beef Jerky Varieties

  • Black Pepper Sea Salt
  • Cajun Style
  • Cranberry Jalapeño
  • Habanero Heatwave
  • Jalapeno Carne Asada
  • Korean Barbecue
  • Orange-A-Peel
  • Old Fashioned Original
  • Pacific Red Hot
  • Sriracha Ghost Pepper
  • Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ
  • Sweet Teriyaki
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    GET YOURS NOW!

    Single-flavor packages are $6.99 at JeffsFamousJerky.com. The beef packages contain 3 ounces of jerky; the bacon packages have 2 ounces.

    Build-your-own variety packs offer a 20% savings; and there are gift boxes with personalized notes.

    For Easter treats, tie a ribbon through the punch hole on top of the bag, and maybe add some bunny stickers.

     
    SOME JERKY HISTORY

    The word jerky comes from the Quechua language of the Incas, who called their dried meat “charqui.” But they were hardly the first people to make it.

    Neither were Homo sapiens, we can deduce. Homo erectus emerged 1.5 million years ago, and evidence found five years ago in a South African cave suggests Homo erectus that built campfires.

    The remains of animal bones and plant ash could be dated to a million years ago. [source]

    By the time Homo sapiens emerged, 195,000 years ago, man had been enjoying barbecue, and by extension jerky, for some time.

    Drying food is one of the first three food preservation techniques, along with salting and, in northern climes, packing with snow in ice caves or cellars.

    Meat dried over a smoky fire is protected from egg-laying insects and multiplying bacteria (they need moisture to live). Cutting it into thin strips makes it easier to chew.

    All the fat is trimmed from the meat because fat doesn’t dry. The dried meat could (and can) then be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.

    While the prehistoric method of drying the meat was used by other ancient peoples, it was not known in Europe.

    The first visitors to the New World found Native Americans making jerky† from the meat of any animal they hunted (that which wasn’t consumed immediately).

    In addition to helping early colonists stave off starvation, later pioneers who headed west quickly learned to make jerky. It was easy to transport, and was an important, high-protein addition to their diet.

    The meat for jerky could be anything from buffalo to whale. Today jerky can be found in proteins as common as turkey, tuna and salmon, to exotics such as alligator and ostrich.

    Today’s jerky eaters have the luxury of enjoying it as a snack rather than a necessity. We also have the pleasure of using tender cuts of meat marinated in a variety of spices, salt and/or sugar—seasonings that were not available to most ancients jerky-makers.

    Modern jerky is dried in low-heat smokers, as opposed to the ancient technique of hanging strips of meat racks to dry in the hot sun. (The campfire could hold only so much.)

    If your only experience with jerky has been dry and tasteless jerky, you deserve some of the good stuff.
    ________________

    *Some brands or flavors within brands may use soy sauce or other glutinous ingredient in the marinade.

    †The pemmican you may have read about in tales of early America was dried meat mixed with dried berries and rendered animal fat. It was invented by Native Americans and used extensively by immigrants in the fur trade. Many years later, it served as a high-calorie food for Arctic and Antarctic explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen.

      

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    FOOD 101: For National BLT Month, The History Of The BLT

    BLT Sandwich History

    Lobster BLT Sandwich Recipe

    Turkey Avocado BLT On Croissant

    Grilled Pineapple BLT

    [1] A classic BLT. Here’s the recipe from Southern Living. [2] Some people add a fried egg. Here’s the recipe from Fun Without Fodmaps. ([3] A lobster BLT. Here’s the recipe from At Sweet Eats. [4] A turkey avocado BLT. Here’s the recipe from Culinary Hill. [5] A BLT with grilled pineapple and sriracho mayo. Here’s the recipe from Half Baked Harvest.

     

    April is National BLT Month; July 22 is National BLT Day.

    The bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with mayonnaise, often served as a triple-decker sandwich on toast, is one of America’s favorite sandwiches (and a U.K. favorite, too).

    While toast, bacon and lettuce have been enjoyed at table since Roman times, two of the other ingredients took a bit longer to come together.

    The oldest of the five ingredients is bread.

    The art of using yeast to leaven bread was mastered by the ancient Egyptians. Loaves of bread presented more culinary opportunities than flatbreads.

    Then came lettuce.

    Lettuce was first cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, who turned it from a weed into a food plant as early as 2680 B.C.E. It was taken to Greece and Rome, and by 50 C.E., many types of lettuce were grown there.

    Next, the bacon.

    Wild boar meat was cured be smoking, salting and drying since Paleolithic times. (The Paleolithic, also known as the Stone Age, extended from 750,000 B.C.E. or 500 B.C.E. to approximately 8,500 B.C.E. [source]).

    Pigs were domesticated from wild boar as early as 13,000–12,700 B.C.E. But there was nothing identifiable as modern bacon.

    The modern bacon we know and love began to appear in the mid-1700s.

    Previously, the word “bacon” referred to all pork, then the back meat, then all cured pork. British farmers who noticed that certain breeds of pig had much plumper sides, engendered a movement so that “bacon” was finally distinguished as the side of pork, cured with salt.

    Here are the history of bacon, and the different types of bacon.

    Next, tomatoes.

    Tomatoes were brought to Europe from the New World at the end of the 16th century. But not as food.

    The original tomatoes were like yellow cherry tomatoes. Considered poisonous (they’re members of the Nightshade family), they were enjoyed as houseplants.

    Tomatoes weren’t eaten for two more centuries, and then only because of a famine in Italy in the early 1800s.

    They arrived in England in the 16th century (see the history of tomatoes).

    Finally, mayonnaise.

    At the same time, there was no mayo for the BLT. The original mahónnaise sauce was invented in 1756, but it was not until years later that it evolved into what is recognized as modern mayo.

    The great French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833) lightened the original recipe by blending the vegetable oil and egg yolks into an emulsion, creating the mayonnaise that we know today (the history of mayonnaise).

    But no one had invented the sandwich.

    It took John Montagu, Fourth Earl Of Sandwich, to invent the eponymous food in 1762 (history of the sandwich).

    A marathon gambler, he would not leave the gaming table to eat, so asked for meat and a couple of pieces of bread. He could throw dice with one hand and eat with the other, no knife or fork required. (Sushi was invented for the same reason.)

    The first sandwiches were gambling food: something easy to eat without utensils. Fancier sandwiches evolved, but it took more than 100 years for someone needed to invent the club sandwich.

    The invention of the club sandwich.

    While tea sandwiches with bacon, lettuce and tomato were served during Victorian times, a search of 19th and early 20th century American and European cookbooks points to the club sandwich as the progenitor of the BLT.

    According to Food Timeline, most food historians concur that the club sandwich was probably created in the U.S. during the late 19th/early 20th century.

     

    No printed record has been found to date, so the where and who remain a matter of culinary debate. The reigning theory points to the Saratoga Club in Saratoga, New York.

    The club sandwich was very popular and spread to other mens’ clubs. A printed recipe appeared for the first time in the 1903 Good Housekeeping Everyday Cook Book. It called for bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and a slice of turkey sandwiched between two slices of bread (no one has yet discovered when the third slice of bread was added).

    So, violà: the club sandwich, a turkey BLT, hits menus and cookbooks. When no turkey was desired, the “club sandwich without turkey” became a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich—later shortened to BLT.

    There’s an unsubstantiated story of a man who came home hungry after his family and servants had retired. He searched the pantry for a snack, deciding to make some toast. As he looked in the ice chest for butter for the toast, he found cooked bacon, chicken, a tomato and mayonnaise.

    He made a sandwich and was so happy with his creation that he mentioned it to friends at his club. They had the kitchen recreate it, and it went onto the menu as the “club sandwich.”

    Was it the Saratoga Club? Did an unnamed man invent it? Maybe yes, maybe no.

     

    THE BLT TODAY

    The BLT on toast has been recreated with many variations. Create your own signature BLT from these ingredients!

  • Different breads: toasted or not, from bagels, brioche and croissants to pinwheels, wrap sandwiches and…taco shells and wafflewiches.
  • Different bacon: bacon jam, Canadian bacon, candied bacon, guanciale (jowl bacon), pancetta, pepper bacon, pork belly, wild boar bacon, etc.
  • Different lettuces: arugula, bibb, romaine, watercress—and garnish with some sprouts.
  • Different tomatoes: cherry tomatoes, fried green tomatoes, multicolor heirloom tomatoes, marinated sundried tomatoes.
  • Smaller: BLT appetizer bites, tea sandwiches, skewers.
  • Added elements: avocado slices/guacamole, basil leaves, chicken salad, fried egg, grilled pineapple or shishito peppers, grilled salmon, lobster, grilled butterflied shrimp, soft shell crab.
  • Flavored mayo: basil, bacon, curry, garlic, harissa, mayo mixed with bacon jam, mayo mixed with tomato pesto, etc.
  • Heat: sriracha mayonnaise, chili butter.
  • Fusion: BLT burger, BLT wedge salad, Buffalo chicken BLT, grilled cheese BLT.
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    MORE BLT IDEAS

    Cocktails

  • BLT Bloody Mary with bacon vodka
  • BLT Cocktail
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    Not A Sandwich

  • BLT Gazpacho
  • BLT Guacamole Crostini
  • BLT Pancakes
  • BLT Pasta Salad
  • BLT Slaw
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    PARTY IDEAS

    Get together a group and assign a different version of BLT to each. Make a whole meal of it…perhaps with chocolate-covered bacon for dessert.

    Don’t restrict your thinking: A Cobb Salad is a BLT salad with some additions (avocado, blue cheese and chicken).

     

    BLT Salad

    BLT Gazpacho Recipe

    Avocado BLT Burger

    [6] Don’t want the bread? Have a BLT salad. Here’s the recipe from Southern Living? [7] Gazpacho with a BLT garnish, from Munchery, a fine food delivery service. [8] A grilled avocado BLT burger. Here’s the recipe from the California Avocado Commission.

     

      

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    FOOD 101: The History Of Jam, Jelly & Preserves

    We’ve already done a turn on the the history of peanut butter. Today it’s jelly’s turn.

    Before we start on its history, check out the different types of fruit spreads: not just jam, jelly and preserves, but chutney, conserve, curd, fruit butter and marmalade.

    The history of jam and preserves begins with the history of food preservation. After all, it was only a few centuries ago that technology was created to store foods over long periods.

    INTRODUCTION: THE HISTORY OF PRESERVING FOOD

    By the Paleolithic period 2.6 million years ago*—also called the Stone Age, and marked by the earliest known use of stone tools—people were preserving food. They had already realized that if they could save food they collected in times of plenty, it would make survival easier during the times of scarcity. They could also avoid having to constantly roam greater and greater distances to look for fresh food.

    The earliest natural methods of preserving food were:

  • Using cold, in areas with ice and snow—packed in caves or cellars, or simply frozen under the ice.
  • Drying—eliminating the moisture from food by exposing it to the sun, applying pressure, or smoking (bacteria and mold need moisture to live). Evidence shows that Middle Eastern and Asian cultures actively dried foods as early as 12,000 B.C.E. [source]
  • The use of salt for preserving food came later in prehistory. Beginning in the Bronze Age (ca. 3200 B.C.E. to 600 B.C.E.), many salt roads—trade routes overland and via river—carried salt to trade in regions that had none.
  • Honey, which has no moisture so can preserve foods enclosed in it, has been used for 8,000 years (6000 B.C.E.) at least. A rock painting from that time shows people harvesting honey. Similarly, syrups of honey and sugar were used as preservatives. (The earliest “candies” are considered to be dates and figs in syrup.)
  • Preservation with honey or sugar was well known to the earliest cultures. Fruits kept in honey were commonplace.
  • In ancient Greece, quince was mixed with honey, dried somewhat and packed tightly into jars. The Romans improved on the method by cooking the quince and honey together, producing a meld of the ingredients (preserves!)].
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    Here’s more on the preservation of foods from The National Center For Home Food Preservation..

    The first steps toward modern preservation methods were spurred by Napoleon Bonaparte in the 1785. He needed to send food with his armies that wouldn’t spoil preserve the food they needed.

    Thus canning came to be, enabling fruits and vegetables in all their forms to be preserved until the next year’s bounty, followed somewhat later by mason jars for home cooks.

    Here’s the history of canning and the history of mason jars.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF JAM, JELLY & PRESERVES

    Credit cooks in the Middle East as the first to make jam and preserves, though historians can’t pinpoint the date. It was before the 11th century; we just don’t know how much before.

    It may have been the 4th century or earlier. Recipes for fruit preserves (using honey) can be found in the oldest cookbook to survive from antiquity: De Re Coquinaria (“The Art of Cooking”).

    The book is believed to be published in the late fourth or early fifth century, and is attributed to “Marcus Gavius Apicius.”*

    ________________

    *The Paleolithic is considered to have ended around 10,000 B.C.E.

    †This is considered a pseudonym of the author(s), honoring a famous epicure by that name who lived some four centuries earlier.
     
     
    Sugar Travels From The Pacific To The Middle Eaast

    While honey could be used to sweeten jams and preserves, it was sugar that became the sweetener of preference.

    The people of New Guinea in the South Pacific domesticated sugar cane some 10,000 years ago. It was later planted in India, where growers in the Ganges Delta became adapt at refining the sweet cane juice into crystallized sugar.

    Darius The Great (549-485 B.C.E.) brought sugar cane back to Persia following his invasion of India. Persia became a prolific sugar-producing region, and Middle Easterners had lots of it. Not so, the countries to the north.

    Jump to the 11th century and the Crusades.

    Amazingly, sugar was only discovered by western Europeans in the 11th Century C.E., as a result of the Crusades (1095 to 1291). Crusaders returning home talked of how pleasant the “new spice” was. The first recorded mention of sugar in England in 1099 [source].

    But it wasn’t cheap.

    As an example, a record from 1319 C.E. cites sugar available in London at “two shillings a pound.” That’s about $50 per pound in today’s money.

    So jellies, preserves and other sugar-based foods would have been restricted to royalty and the wealthy.

    Marmalade is believed to have been created in 1561 by the physician to Mary, Queen of Scots. He crushed oranges and sugar as a remedy for her seasickness.

    For more pleasant uses, royal sweet tooths kept royal kitchen staffs busy.

    The magnificent feasts of Louis XIV always ended with marmalades and jellies served in silver dishes, eaten with silver spoons (so don’t feel guilty about dipping into the jar with your stainless steel flatware).

    Not that Louis and his acquaintances watched their pennies, but sugar wasn’t cheap. It didn’t trickle down to the bourgeoisie (or the British middle classes

    As an example, we have a record from 1319 C.E. citing sugar available in London at “two shillings a pound.” That’s about $50 per pound in today’s money.

    Unless money knew no boundaries, sugar was a luxury.

    Finally, with the enormous expansion of industry and opportunity starting with the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, most people could afford sugar for their coffee and tea.
     
     
    Why Jelly Arrived Later

    Jelly came centuries later. It required gelatin to set it. (In modern times, pectin derived from fruits is used.)

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) had been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones and connective tissues. It was a laborious process, undertaken largely by the kitchens of the wealthy, which had the staff resources to undertake it.‡

    Aspic, made from meat or fish stock, appears in Egyptian wall paintings. It seems to have dropped from sight, sometime after the fall of Ancient Egypt (30 B.C.E.) and the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 C.E., which led to more sacking by other peoples and the Dark Ages.

    No one had enough to eat of the basics, much less laboriously crafted fare.

     

    Pear Jelly

    Orange Marmalade
     
    Pineapple Passionfruit Jam

    Cherry Preserves

    Raspberry Curd

    Apple Butter

    [1] Jelly is clear. This pear jelly recipe is from Things We Make. [2] Marmalade has a clear base, but is different from jelly in that it includes pieces of the fruit. Here’s the orange marmalade recipe from The Suburban Soapbox. [3] Jam is made from crushed fruit. This pineapple-passionfruit jam recipe is from The Flexitarian. [4] Preserves differ from jam, in that the fruit is cooked whole (in the case of small fruit like berries) and is recognizable its syrup. This cherry preserves recipe is from the Cilantropist. [5] Curd purées the cooked fruit and combines it with butter into a creamy spread, as in this lemon curd recipe from Saving Dessert. [6] In an interesting twist, products called fruit butter have no butter or other dairy. This apple butter recipe is from Dessert For Two. See many more types of fruit spreads in our Jam & Jelly Glossary.

     
    Aspic later resurfaced as a French darling at the beginning of the Renaissance, around 1400. Kitchens of the wealthy turned out fancy aspics and desserts.

    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin, a French physicist, mathematician and inventor. It made the production of jelly so much easier, and enabled the development of other foods that required stiffening.

    And that’s why jelly came much later.

    Interestingly, Papin’s Wikipedia page doesn’t mention gelatin—just his scientific inventions. No doubt, inventing the forerunner of the steam engine tops jelling food.

    Here’s a longer history of gelatin.

    By the way:

    The word jelly comes from the French word gelée, meaning to congeal or gel.

    The word jam appears in 18th century English from the word meaning to press tightly.

    The word marmalade appeared in the late 15th century, derived from the Portuguese word for quince jam, marmelada.

    ________________

    ‡The primary use for gelatin was as glue.

     

    Lamb With Mint Jelly

    Pancakes With Strawberry Jam

    Linzer Cookies

    [7] Lamb roast with mint jelly, a British classic (photo courtesy Welsh Beef & Lamb). [8] Pancakes with strawberry jam (photo courtesy Calm Belly Kitchen). [9] Raspberry jam is the filling for liner cookies and tortes (photo courtesy American Heritage Cooking).

     

    Sugar Comes To The West Indies

    Arab trade brought sugar to southern Europe through Spain, and the first Spanish explorers carried it to the New World.

    It is recorded that in 1493, Christopher Columbus brought sugar cane plants to grow in the West Indies. The crop thrived, and the region became Europe’s main source of sugar, beginning around 1500.

    Sugar was the main crop produced on plantations throughout the Caribbean beginning in the 18th century, leading to a boom in the Caribbean economies through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

    These plantations produced 80% to 90% of the sugar consumed in Western Europe. A by-product of refining sugar was molasses, given to the slaves for sweetening their food. One clever fellow discovered that fermenting the molasses ade a delicious drink: rum.

    As global trading grew, the price of sugar became affordable in the 19th century to middle and lower income families in Europe and the U.S.

    But sugar was a precious necessity. In 1888, the American folk song Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill, has railroad workers lamenting, “Oh it’s work all day for the sugar in your tay” [tea].

    And that meant sugar for your jams and jellies, candies and desserts, too.
     
     
    JAM IN AMERICA

    From European royalty to Americans to American pioneers, to energizing troops during battle, to making life sweeter for children and invalids, and just about everyone else:

    Jams and preserves came to the U.S. with colonists.

    As a teenager in 1792, John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, a nursery man (the title in those days), moved from western Pennsylvania to Ohio. In 1805 began his apprenticeship as an orchardist with an apple grower.

    He noted the U.S. surge westward in the early 1800s and decided on his life’s journey: planting apple trees throughout the Midwest, so incoming pioneers could make cider and jam.

    One of those pioneers was Jerome Monroe Smucker of Orrville, Ohio, a farmer who opened a cider mill in 1897 using fruit that Johnny Appleseed had planted. Within a few years, he was also making apple butter, in a copper kettle over a wood stove.

    Jerome and his wife Ella ladled the apple butter into stoneware crocks, and Ella then sold it from her horse-drawn wagon to other housewives in the county. Today their venture is worth more than $15 billion.

  • In Concord, Massachusetts in 1853, Ephraim Wales Bull perfected the breeding of a cold-climate, rich-tasting grape, giving us a legacy of Concord grape jelly.
  • In 1869, Dr. Thomas Branwell Welch used the Concord grape to launch his grape juice company.
  • In 1918, Welch’s company made its first jam product, Grapelade. The U.S. Army bought the entire inventory and shipped it to France for consumption by the troops during World War I. When the troops returned to the States after the war, they demanded more “Grapelade.” Welch’s signature Concord grape jelly debuted in 1923.
  • In 1940 the Food and Drug Administration established Standards of Identity (legal requirements) for what can be called jam, jelly, preserves and fruit butters.
  • After World War II, food scientists developed the process of aseptic canning: heating the food and the jar or can separately. For sensitive foods such as fruits, this allowed for high-temperature flash cooking that preserved taste and nutritional value.
  • Alas, when sugar prices soared in the early 1970s, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) became a popular substitute for mass producers. It took more than 30 years for health professionals, and then consumers, to remove HFCS from many of our foods [source].
  • Beginning with the emergence of the foodie in the mid-1980s, more Americans entered the artisan food business: back to the basics, using the best ingredients and artisan techniques. Without economies of scale, their products are more expensive than mass brands, but worth it.
  • Today, the U.S. produces about 1 billion pounds of fruit spreads (jams, jellies, preserves, fruit spreads, marmalades, fruit & honey butters) annually. Per capita consumption is approximately 2.2 pounds annually.
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    RECIPE: Peanut Butter & Jelly Waffles

    Peanut Butter & Jelly Waffle Sandwich

    Smooth Operator Peanut Butter

    Fancy Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich

    [1] A different kind of peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Photo courtesy Cait’s Plate. [2] You can also celebrate with peanut butter and jelly thumbprint cookies. Here’s the recipe from Chef de Home. [3] Don’t want waffles? Here’s a special way to celebrate with a sandwich (photo courtesy Jif).

     

    April 2nd is National Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich. It’s easy to whip up a sandwich; but more special to make a waffle sandwich.

    We’re making waffle sandwiches, inspired by a recipe from Cait’s Plate.

    We used Peanut Butter & Co.’s Smooth Operator, but you can use any flavor of any brand you like.

    Peanut Butter & Co.’s other peanut butter flavors include The Bee’s Knees (honey), Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, Crunch Time, Dark Chocolate Dreams, The Heat Is On, Mighty Maple, Old Fashioned Crunchy, Old Fashioned Smooth and White Chocolate Wonderful.

    We used Smooth Operator and Smucker’s Fruit & Honey Spread in Strawberry. We made our own waffles from scratch. Frozen just doesn’t do it for us.

    But if you use store-bought waffles, you’ll be ready to eat in five minutes.

    RECIPE: PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY WAFFLES

    Ingredients For 1 Serving

  • Waffles of choice
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons jelly or jam of choice, or more to taste
  • Optional layer: sliced bananas
  • Optional garnish: berries or other fruit
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    Preparation

    1. MAKE the waffles. Spread with peanut butter and jelly, add the optional bananas and stack into a “sandwich.”
     
    P.B. & J. IN THE U.S.A.

    Last year, Smucker’s conducted a study on America’s favorite comfort foods. The winner was PB&J.

    Comforting America through thick and thin, rich and poor, crunchy and creamy, the survey revealed that PB&J is beloved across all generations.

  • 30% of Americans say a PB&J sandwich is their number one choice for comfort food, followed by macaroni and cheese (21%) and grilled cheese (19%)
  • 30% of Americans are most likely to eat a PB&J sandwich when packing/making one for their child.
  • 60% of Moms say a PB&J sandwich is the easiest lunch to make.
  • 57% of Dads say a PB&J sandwich is the easiest lunch to make.
  • 48% of millennials say a PB&J sandwich is their go-to lunch item.
  • 37% of millennials eat a PB&J sandwich about two or more times per week.
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    HOW PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY CAME TO BE

    Jelled, crushed fruits have been around since ancient times. It took a couple of additional millennia for peanut butter to appear.

    Peanut butter was developed in 1880 by a St. Louis doctor, to provide a protein food for people who had lost their chewing teeth. In those days, peanut butter was scooped out of barrels by the corner grocer.

     
    Thanks to the proselytizing of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who owned a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, peanut butter became popular at health spas (sanitariums).

    It was lapped up by the rich and famous who populated the spas, and the recipe returned home with them. Peanut butter was the fad food of the elite. It moved into the mainstream only after the elite market was saturated.

    According to Peanuts: The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea by Andrew F. Smith

    Peanut butter became a trend (in the old days, a “fad”). According to sources in The Story Behind The Dish, peanut butter was originally paired [on crackers or tea sandwiches] with celery, cheese, nasturtium, pimento and watercress.

    Here’s more on the history of peanut butter.

    In a Good Housekeeping article published in May 1896, a recipe “urged homemakers to use a meat grinder to make peanut butter and spread the result on bread.” The following month, the culinary magazine Table Talk published a “peanut butter sandwich recipe.”

    The History Of The Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich

    According to The Story Behind The Dish: Classic American Foods by Mark McWilliams, the first published recipe for peanut butter and jelly on bread was from Julia Davis Chandler in 1901.

    The recipe also appeared in the 1901 Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics, edited by Fanny Farmer.

    It helped that peanut butter became popular around the time that sandwiches were becoming common lunch food in the U.S. According to McWilliams, they really “burst onto the scene in 1920s.”

    Check out the history of peanut butter and the history of jelly

    For the rest of PB&J sandwich, here are the history of bread, and the history of waffles.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Smithfield Spiral Sliced Ham For Easter

    Why do we eat ham at Easter? The answer is below.

    But eat we do! Smithfield sent THE NIBBLE its latest flavor, Smokehouse Reserve Baked Apple Spiced Spiral Sliced Ham (the flavor refers to the glaze packets that are included.

    Weighing in at more than five pounds, we served it last night at our monthly editorial dinner.

    The ham was so juicy, so easy to prepare (precooked, it needed only 90 minutes of heating) that two more team members are buying spiral-sliced Smithfield hams for Easter dinner.

    Each pound of spiral sliced ham contains approximately 4 servings, so our group of nine went home with leftovers, planning how to use them today.

    Smokehouse Reserve Baked Apple Spiced Spiral Sliced Ham is a limited edition that joins Smithfield’s lineup of spiral sliced hams:

    • Brown Sugar Spiral Sliced Ham, regular or preglazed
    • Crunchy Glaze Spiral Sliced Ham
    • Crunchy Glaze Quarter Boneless Spiral Sliced Ham
    • Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham, regular or preglazed
    • Pecan Praline Spiral Slcied Ham
    • Quarter Bone-In Hickory Smoked Spiral Ham
    • Quarter Boneless Hickory Smoked Spiral Ham
    • Salted Caramel Spiral Sliced Smoked Ham

    WHY BUY A SPIRAL SLICED HAM?

    A friend with a ham habit recommends a spiral sliced ham with the bone in. He likes the greater juiciness of a bone-in ham, the ham bone for further culinary use (see the next section), and the convenience of the spiral slices.

    Our mother, a purist, preferred the uneven slices and carved her own ham. So it becomes a question of aesthetics and time (and skill) to carve. If a large group of hungry people wants their ham ASAP, go for the spiral.

    A spiral ham also looks prettier standing up, with the slices fanned.

    Smithfield hams are sold fully cooked and can be heated or eaten cold or room temperature. In fact, we spent so much time last night with the courses leading up to the ham, that we ended up with room temperature ham after our baking ham had cooled. It was just as yummy.

    Spiral ham trivia: The spiral-slicing machine was patented in 1952 by Harry J. Hoenselaar, who went on to founded HoneyBaked Ham a few years later. His creation eliminated the frustration of navigating the ham bone and producing even slices.

    Here’s more on the spiral-slicing machine.

    WAYS TO USE THE HAM BONE

    Except for the those marked boneless, all hams include a bone, which can be used to add smoky ham flavor to other dishes. If you don’t want to use it, ask a friend: Few good cooks will turn down a ham bone!

    You can freeze a ham bone; you can substitute a ham bone for any recipe that calls for a ham hock.

    • Freeze: If you don’t have much time to think about it, wrap the bone tightly in plastic, and plan to use it within three months.
    Smithfield Honey Cured Spiral Ham

    Smithfield Baked Apple Spice Spiral Ham

    Easter Dinner

    [1] and [2] Smithfield spiral sliced ham (photo courtesy Smithfield Foods). [3] On an Easter table (photo courtesy Today I Found Out).

    • Ham Stock: If you have just a little time to think about it, place the bone in a 4 or 5-quart pot with water, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs (bay leaves, parsley, thyme), onions or leeks, and 5 peppercorns (The water should cover the bone by one inch). Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours to extract the most flavor from the bone. Stock is typically left unsalted, for flexibility in recipes. When finished, discard the bone and strain out the vegetables.
    • Beans: A pot of beans or legumes of any kind (the difference), will be even more flavorful when cooked with the bone. Make a big pot of beans and enjoy them all week in different forms: baked beans, bean dip, grain bowls, green salad, sandwich spread, tacos and burritos, for starters.
    • Congee: We love Cream of Rice porridge, and breakfast on it regularly. The Chinese version is called congee, served as a savory dish with scrap bits of meat and vegetables, and sliced scallions. Find a recipe and cook up a pot. Maybe invite friends and neighbors to brunch? If so, see if you can find a Chinese sausage to add to the congee: a wonderful flavor very different from American and European sausages.
    • Greens: The classic is collards with a ham bone. If you’ve never made this delicious dish, head to the store for the collards! You can substitute kale and chard.
    • Soups & Stews: Ham bones are added to hearty, slow-cooked soups: bean soups, chowder, lentil and split pea are the most popular.

    Don’t leave a ham bone where a dog can get at it: Cooked bones can splinter and get stuck in their throats.

    MORE FROM SMITHFIELD

    WHY WE EAT HAM ON EASTER

    The paschal lamb or an easter ham?

    Lamb is a traditional Easter food because Jesus’ last supper was the Passover meal, which includes a ritually sacrificed lamb.

    In Europe, lamb is commonly served at Easter, based on the tradition of the Passover feast, and fitting commemoration of Jesus, the “lamb of God,” who, as a Jew, would not have eaten pork.

    So why is ham so often served at Easter?

    Convenience: Prior to modern times, salted pork would last through the winter and ham would be ready to eat at Easter, before other fresh, quality meat was available [source].

    Before refrigeration, pigs and cows were slaughtered in the fall. Since it took a fair amount of time to butcher these large animals without modern tools, the cold winter temperatures helped to keep the meat from going bad before it could be properly aged to develop their flavor [source].

    By Jewish law, the sacrificial lamb could be up to a year old. Sometimes, based on how the dates fell for Passover and Easter, spring lambs born 6 to 8 weeks earlier could be slaughtered for the holiday.

     

    Green Salad With Ham

    [4] Make this rainbow salad with leftover lamb (photo courtesy Shockingly Delicious | Smithfield).

    RECIPE: RAINBOW SALAD WITH LEFTOVER HAM

    Transform leftover ham into a colorful salad, packed with fruits, vegetables and ham chunks.

    This recipe, featured by Smithfield, is copyright Dorothy Reinhold, Shockingly Delicious.

    Ingredients For 1 Luncheon Salad

    • 1 head of bok choy
    • 1 red or reddish apple, such as Fuji*
    • 1 bunch purple grapes
    • 2 slices ham, cut into chunks or strips
    • 3 mini bell peppers or 1 large, ideally red, orange or yellow
    • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla-infused olive oil†
    • 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar (substitute sherry or wine vinegar)
    • Fresh chives
    Preparation1. CHOP the bok choy into bite-sized pieces. Place in large bowl or plate.2, CUT the apple into quarters, removing core, and cut it into chunks to add to salad. Add grapes to salad. Cut 1-2 slices of ham into strips and add to salad. Cut mini peppers in half, removing stem and seeds. Cut into small chunks and add to salad. Add blueberries to salad.

    3. DRIZZLE the olive oil on salad, followed by the vinegar. Using a kitchen shears, snip chives in tiny pieces atop salad.

    ________________

    *You can substitute any apple you have. Fuji apples are sweet, juicy and crisp with an undertone of spice. It can be yellow-green with red highlights to mostly red in color. It is a cross between two American varieties, the Red Delicious and the Ralls Jennet, a popular breeding apple that was grown at Monticello by Thomas Jefferson. The Fuji apple was developed in Fujisaki, Japan in 1939 but wasn’t introduced to market until 1962 in Japan, and not until the 1980s in the U.S., where it has become one of the the country’s favorite apples.

    †Most of us haven’t infused a vanilla bean in olive oil. Substitute any flavored oil you have: basil, garlic or rosemary.

     

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