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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Jam/Peanut Butter

TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Jelly

Use jelly as a cake filling, or melt and drizzle
it over an unfrosted cake. Photo courtesy
HarlequinCandy.Blogspot.com.

 

Beyond breakfast, look to jelly, jam and other fruit spreads for recipes and entertaining. They can be paired with just about anything to add a bright, sweet kick.

Chef Mark Dowling of LearntoCook.com has tutorials, recipes and tips to teach the basics to home cooks and families, including how to tailor each flavor of fruit spread to specific recipes and occasions. Here are some of his suggestions:

Jelly

Jelly combines fruit juice, sugar, pectin (a thickening agent) and acid into a clear spread that will hold its shape, even out of the jar. Jelly has a translucent color.

 
Pair jelly with cake. Adding jelly to a slightly sweet, pound cake or angel food cake contributes color and flavor. Heat the jelly to melt it, before drizzling it on top of your favorite dessert.

Jam

Jam is a thicker mixture than jelly and is made with chopped or crushed fruit, as well as pectin and sugar. Despite the soft chunks of fruit, jam will spread easily.

Pair jam with bread, toast and scones. Either bake jam into your favorite scone or muffin recipe by adding a 1/2 cup of jam, or serve it on top with clotted cream.

 

Marmalade

Marmalade is most often a citrus spread that uses the peel and pulp of the fruit; sugar is added but marmalade does not contain pectin. It is cooked for a long time, and when finished, displays the different parts and textures in a clear suspension.

Pair marmalade with salads and proteins. Vinaigrettes sweetened with a bit of marmalade are delicious atop side salads of bitter greens, such as arugula and kale. Marmalade is also excellent in a marinade or to glaze chicken.

Fruit Butter

Fruit butter is made by slow-cooking a mix of fruit and sugar until it is opaque, smooth and spreadable, with rich fruit flavor.

Pair fruit butter with your favorite cheese. Enjoy fruit butter on top of tangy brie cheese, wrapped and baked in puff pastry or on crostini with creamy goat cheese.

 

Smucker’s Naturals, tasty new fruit spreads. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 
What a perfect segue into …

SMUCKER’S NATURAL FRUIT SPREADS

The famed maker of preserves has launched a new line of fruit spreads, called Smucker’s Natural. We enjoyed all four flavors: Concord Grape, Orange Marmalade, Red Raspberry and Strawberry.

And as now have four open jars in the fridge, we’re going to implement Chef Dowling’s suggestions, above.

 

CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF JELLY & JAM IN OUR GLOSSARY.

  

Comments

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Planter’s NUT-rition Peanut Butter

Cinnamon Raisin PB, a real treat. Photo by
Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

Peanut butter is a nutritious food: It was invented by a physician to provide protein for people who could not chew meat (see the history of peanut butter).

While delicious flavored peanut butter has been produced by artisan manufacturers for more than a decade, Planters is the first national producer to take on mix-ins.

Three NUT-rition flavors have inclusions that create a delightful texture as well as added flavor—we’d classify them as “gourmet” PB:

  • Banana Granola Nut Peanut Butter: We could use more banana flavor, but it’s perfect for a PB sandwich with sliced bananas.
  • Berry Nut Peanut Butter: Chewy bits of dried cranberry add texture and flavor.
  • Cinnamon Raisin Granola Nut Peanut Butter: Perhaps our favorite.
  • Cherry Chocolate Peanut Butter is “coming soon.”
  •  

    The flavored peanut butters are available at grocers nationwide. Read the full review.
     
    FIND MORE OF OUR PEANUT BUTTER BRANDS & RECIPES.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Trail Mix Peanut Butter Sandwich

    We love this nut-tricious snack idea: An open-face peanut butter sandwich topped with trail mix. Use whole wheat toast: whole wheat for extra nutrition and toast for extra crunchiness. Cut into squares for easier snacking. Our beverage of choice: a glass of nonfat milk.

    Open face sandwich on whole wheat toast, a layer of smooth peanut butter and a layer of trail mix.

    The recipe concept comes from Lee Zalben, proprietor of the restaurant Peanut Butter & Co. in New York City. He’s developed a different PB sandwich recipe for every day of the year—and for more than one year. You can see all of his creative of ideas online at the Nutropolitan Museum Of Art.

    MAKE YOUR OWN TRAIL MIX

    You don’t need ready-made trail mix: Make your own using the nuts, seeds, raisins and other dried fruits you already have”

     

    Top a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and trail mix.Photo by Andrea Hernandez | Peanut Butter & Co.

  • Candy: carob chips, chocolate chips/chunks, crystallized ginger, mini marshmallows, M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces
  • Cereal: Chex, granola, Grape Nuts, rolled oats
  • Dried fruits: apples, apricots, banana chips, blueberries, candied orange peel (gourmet!), cherries (our favorite!), coconut, cranberries, dates, figs, raisins
  • Nuts (chop big nuts into large chunks)
  • Savory freeze dried edamame or veggie chips, roasted chickpeas, soy beans or soy nuts, wasabi peas
  • Seeds: pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds
  • Miscellaneous: baked soybeans, crushed pretzels
  •  
    One of our favorite combinations: dates, dried cherries, figs, pistachio nuts.

    After you’ve made trail mix, use it on everything from cereal toppers to ice cream, pudding and yogurt garnishes to baked goods ingredients (mix into brownie, cake and cookie batter).

    Do you have a signature trail mix ingredient or favorite combination? Pleas share!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Single Malt Marmalade, Jam With Spirits

    We recently received a gift shipment of jams from Blake Hill Preserves of Grafton, Vermont, artisanal producers of chutneys, jams and marmalades.

    The fruits are sourced from local farms in season, when they’re perfectly ripe. Every batch is prepared by hand in a Vermont cottage kitchen.

    The four jars we received were equally delicious. The company focuses on combinations of flavors: Blackberry & Rhubarb, Blueberries & Summer Plum, Raspberry & Hibiscus Strawberry & Rhubarb. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    The jams are cooked slowly in traditional French copper preserving pans to concentrate the fruit flavors. Raw cane sugar is used as a sweetener; no commercial pectin or other additives are used.

    It takes eight to nine ounces of raw fruit to make every 10 ounce jar of jam or preserves. Compare that to large commercial brands, which can be 70% sugar.

     

    Raspberry jam is enhanced with hibiscus, creating a special flavor combination. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

    MARMALADE WITH SPIRIT

    Blake Hill Preserves also makes what they call “Top Shelf Marmalades,” which add a splash of premium spirits:

  • Lemon Lime Marmalade & Aged 100% Agave Tequila
  • Orange Marmalade & 10 Year Single Malt Whisky
  •  
    While you can certainly enjoy spiked marmalade on your morning toast, they (as with all jams) can be used as a glaze for grilled fish and meats, as a cheese condiment or an ice cream/sorbet topping.

    You can purchase the spirited and alcohol-free jams directly from Blake Hill Preserves. But you can also make your own.

     

    Grab the Johnny Walker and perk up your
    marmalade. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    AN EASY WAY TO MAKE YOUR OWN SPIKED JAM
    OR MARMALADE

    There are two ways to do this: easier and easy. Start with already-made jam or marmalade, unless you’re up to the challenge of making it from scratch.

    Be sure to use good ingredients: quality jam/marmalade/preserves and quality Scotch, Tequila or other spirit.

    The Easier Way

  • Pour one tablespoon of liquor into the marmalade jar and stir to combine thoroughly. Cap, refrigerate and allow the flavors to infuse for a week.
  • Taste and add more liquor if you like. Let the flavors infuse for another week.
  •  
    The Easy Way

  • Empty the jam into a sauce pan and add the liquor. Stir over low heat for a few minutes.
  • Taste and add more liquor if you like. Return contents to the jar or serve in a dish.
  •  

    JAM, PRESERVES, MARMALADE: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

    Jam, jelly, marmalade and preserves are popular types of fruit spreads, which also include chutney, curd and fruit butter.

    Check out how they differ from each other in our Jam Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Emily G’s Jam Of Love

    We taste a lot of jams that are perfectly nice. But on rare occasions, we come across a knockout. That’s how we feel about Emily G’s Jam Of Love, a lovely line of artisan jam.

    Superb fruit flavor, exquisite texture, creative recipes: These are jams (and marmalades) to treasure. They’re a treat for the table, and a simply delectable gift (at $8.00 per jar).

    Far beyond a bread spread, these joyous jams can be enjoyed during every meal of the day, plus snacks. You’ll see the 20 different ways we use them in the full review.

    In fact, just thinking about Emily G’s jams make us want to have a snack right now. So we’ll cut this piece short and send you to the longer review.

    And if you don’t know the difference between chutney, jam, jelly, marmalade and preserves, we’ve got that covered in our Jam Glossary.

     

    Delicious peach marmalade can be used on toast…or with 20 other foods. Photo by Al 62 | iStock.

     

      

    Comments

    BOOK: Marmalade, by Elizabeth Field

    Marmalade could become your new signature dish. Photo courtesy Running Press.

     

    When Elizabeth Field was growing up, she didn’t like the bitter orange marmalade that her parents loved to slather on toast. But as an adult, she was introduced to homemade marmalade and became a convert.

    Her new book, Marmalade, Sweet & Savory Spreads For A Sophisticated Taste, may inspire you to begin your own marmalade journey.

    Charmingly designed and photographed, it inspires a get-together: Make a day of marmalade-making with a friend. It’s quality time together that yields jars and jars of provisions and gifts. Friends and colleagues will clamor for it.

    If they tax your generosity, you can simply buy them a copy of the book:

     

    Give a man a jar and he has marmalade for a week. Teach a man to make marmalade and you give him marmalade for a lifetime. And hopefully, there will be gift jars in it for you.

    Get your copy here.

    Don’t worry that fresh fruit season is waning. There are 11 citrus marmalade recipes as well as fall-winter flavors such as Double Ginger Pear and Quince Raspberry Marmalades.

    And you must make lots and lots of the savory Red Onion Marmalade. It goes with sandwiches, burgers and just about every type of grilled or roasted fish, meat and poultry. There isn’t enough onion marmalade in America. It will be an unforgettable holiday gift.

    The author also provides recipes for buttermilk biscuits, brown soda bread and popovers to enjoy with your marmalade; and shows you had to use the spread in main dishes such as Marmalade Roast Duck and Glazed Country Ham.

    THE HISTORY OF MARMALADE

    Marmalade originated some 2,000 years ago as a solid cooked quince and honey paste, the precursor of Spain’s famed membrillo, served with Manchego cheese as a popular dessert. It was on the tables of ancient Greeks and Romans.

    Some time around the 10th century, the Portuguese replaced the honey with sugar. They called it marmelada after the word for quince, marmelo.

    Marmelada was a luxury product and a popular gift among noble families. Sugar, produced in the subtropics, was a very expensive import until the 1800s. For example, it wasn’t until 1874 that the British government abolished the sugar tax and made “white gold” affordable to the average citizen.

    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MARMALADE, JAM & PRESERVES?

    They’re related, but different, styles of spreads. Check out our Jam Glossary which explains the differences among these terms and others (chutney, confiture, conserve, curd, fruit butter, gelée, fruit curd and fruit spread).

    Find our favorite brands of store-bought spreads.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mix Your Own Fruit Yogurt

    We were excited to receive a shipment of all the flavors of Smucker’s premium line of preserves, Orchard’s Finest.

    We reached for the blueberry preserves—we rarely see a jar of blueberry preserves or jam—and ate it from the spoon.

    It was a bit too sweet to mainline, but we grabbed a carton of plain Greek yogurt and made the most delicious blueberry yogurt. And another. And another.

    Which gets us to today’s tip: Mix your own fruit yogurt with preserves and plain yogurt. It’s “fruit on the bottom” style, only your fruit will be on the top.

    Why do it?

  • You control the sweetness. You can add as much or little preserves as you like.
  • You control the portion size. You aren’t limited to those skimpy 5.3- to 6-ounce cups. Remember when all yogurts were eight ounces?
  • You get better flavor. The preserves you use are most likely going to be better quality and more flavorful. We can assure you that our Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest fruit yogurts were head and shoulders more delicious than anything we could purchase.
  •  

    Just stir in to plain yogurt for homemade flavored yogurt. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • You create the flavor of your dreams. Can’t find blackberry yogurt? Fig yogurt? Kiwi yogurt? Want a mango-boysenberry mix? Grab the preserves and mix away.
     
    You don’t really save money, by the way; but you get exactly the flavors you want and the exact portion you want.

    We’ve so enjoyed mixing all eight flavors† of Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest preserves into our yogurt, that we’re trying to save enough for more tips to come. Stay tuned!

    YOGURT TRIVIA

    The “fruit on the bottom” yogurt has an official name: sundae-style yogurt. Instead of a conventional ice cream sundae with topping, there’s yogurt and topping (or a “bottom topping”).

    Discover the different types of yogurt in our Yogurt Glossary.

     
    *THE MATH: FreshDirect.com sells the 32-ounce-size Stonyfield Organic Plain Yogurt for $4.29; the six-ounce cups of flavored yogurt cost $1.19. The 32-ounce container yields 5.3 six-ounce cups. If you purchase five six-ounce cups, it’s $5.95, plus the preserves.
     
    †FLAVORS: Coastal Valley Peach Apricot, Fall Harvest Cinnamon Apple, Lakeside Raspberry Cranberry, Michigan Red Tart Cherry, Northwest Triple Berry, Northwoods Blueberry, Pacific Grove Orange Marmalade Medley and Pacific Mountain Strawberry.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Store Peanut Butter

    We received an email from a reader, asking: “How should I store my PB and how long will it last?”

    Large brands typically come with expiration dates (and possibly, preservatives). If you purchase an artisan brand, it has no preservatives; but it may not have an expiration date, either. So here are the guidelines:

  • Shelf. If you store the jar in a cool dry place, a jar of peanut butter will last for about 12 months. Although the ingredients can remain shelf stable beyond then, nuts can start to go rancid after a year or so, and your PB may develop an odor. Use your nose as your guide, and feel free to taste the PB to see if the flavor is still passable. It won’t harm you to eat it.
  • Fridge. If you store the jar in the fridge, the cold will buy you more time.
  • Microwave. If you refrigerate the PB, it will be harder to spread when cold. So tip #2 is: Take the lid off and microwave the jar for 20 seconds before spreading.
  •  

    Koeze is of our favorite artisan PBs. The company also makes spectacular chocolate peanut butter clusters. Photo courtesy Koeze.

     

    Find more of our favorite peanut butter brands, recipes and more in our Peanut Butter & Jelly Section.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: PB CRAVE Flavored Peanut Butter

    Fun flavors, fun gifts. Photo courtesy PB
    Crave.

     

    All natural, flavored artisan peanut butter is hot. Recently, a California brand called Pacific Beach Gourmet Peanut Butter Spread made our Top Pick Of The Week list.

    Shortly afterward, we received a shipment of PB Crave, another new company (in Minnesota) that has launched with four flavors:

  • Choco Choco: Peanut butter with Belgian chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips and wild honey.
  • CoCo Banana: Peanut butter with natural banana flavor, chocolate chips, and wild honey.
  • Cookie Nookie: Peanut butter with natural cookie dough flavor, milk chocolate chips, and wild honey.
  • Razzle Dazzle: Peanut butter twisted with natural raspberry flavor, white & dark chocolate chips, and wild honey.
  •  
    You can buy the PBs from PBCrave.com and on Amazon.

     

    Our personal favorite is Razzle Dazzle, a combination of peanut butter and raspberry flavoring that gives the impression of raspberry jam. We love the idea of Coco Bananas, banana peanut butter; but slicing a fresh banana onto your PB sandwich is more lush than banana-flavored PB. Cookie Nookie is sure to be a favorite with cookie dough enthusiasts.

    The flavors, each of which includes chocolate chips (dark, milk and white, depending on the flavor) inspired us to sprinkle some chocolate chips onto our sandwiches made with regular PB. One tablespoon of semisweet chocolate chips has about 70 calories, and you can make do with half a tablespoon. If you heat the sandwich in the microwave, you get a chocolate-PB melt.

    The PB Crave flavors are fun; we like them as healthier gifts for kids. These honey-sweetened flavors can be enjoyed by the spoon from the jar—with a side of milk, of course.

    What Do The Terms Mean?

    All natural means no hydrogenated oil, no artificial flavors, no high-fructose corn syrup, no chemical preservatives. Peanut butter is naturally gluten- and cholesterol-free.

    Artisan products are made in small batches, using time-honored techniques and quality ingredients. In the case of PB Crave, which does not employ emulsifiers, the oil does separate and needs to be stirred back in. But it’s not an onerous task.

    Giving Back

    PB Crave is a good corporate citizen. A minimum of 2% of profits goes directly to Project Peanut Butter, a non-profit organization that helps save the lives of malnourished children through ready-to-use therapeutic foods (including high-calorie, fortified peanut butter-like pastes.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Biscoff Spread, Now In Crunchy

    Biscoff spread sweetens a bagel. Photo
    courtesy Lotus Bakeries.

     

    One of our favorite products of 2011 was Biscoff Spread, a creamy, all-natural bread spread that looks like peanut butter but is actually made of ground Biscoff cookies and is nut-free. (Read our review.)

    Now, a crunchy version is rolling out across the U.S., at Central Market, Cost Plus World Market, The Fresh Market, Market Basket, Schnucks, Shop Rite, Walmart, Wegmans and Winn-Dixie. We even saw a private label brand at Trader Joe’s, called “Cookie Spread.”

    Crunchy Biscoff Spread takes the original creamy caramel spread delight and adds chunks of caramelized Biscoff cookies. The combination of creamy and crunchy is even better than the original. Imagine the possibilities:

  • Crunchy Biscoff Spread on toast or on pancakes and waffles
  • Luscious frosting layers or fillings in cakes and cupcakes
  •   

  • A filling for cookie sandwiches—and of course, regular sandwiches and tea sandwiches, with or without some apple slices
  • Just licked off the spoon
  •  
    Biscoff Spread Creamy is available at Central Market, Cost Plus World Market, The Fresh Market, Giant Carlisle, Giant Landover, Hannaford, Kroger, Market Basket, Safeway, Schnucks, Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, Walmart, Wegmans, and Winn-Dixie and others, as well as through Biscoff’s website.

    A complete list of retail locations is available at www.biscoff.com.

    Or, you can buy it online now.

    Find more of our favorite bread spreads: product reviews, recipes and more.

     

    Find it on your grocer’s shelf or online.

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