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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Jam/Peanut Butter

FOOD FUN: Beer & Beer Nuts PB Sandwich

Beer Nuts and PB Sandwich. Photo by
Theresa Raffetto | Peanut Butter & Co. Food
styling by Matt Vohr.


For your St. Patrick’s Day consideration, how about a PB and Beer Nuts sandwich with your beer?

Beer Nuts is a brand of peanuts with a sweet-and-salty glaze. They don’t contain beer. Rather, they were marketed as a more glamorous accompaniment to beer than the ubiquitous salted peanuts.

In this concept, Peanut Butter & Co. founder Lee Zalben topped a piece of rustic whole wheat bread with his Smooth Operator creamy premium peanut butter, plus crunchy Beer Nuts.

We prefer our PB with a kick, so we substituted his The Heat Is On peanut butter, blended with cayenne peppers, chili powder and crushed red peppers.

The PB & Co. line is certified kosher by OU.



Classic beer nuts are sweet and salty, but you can tweak the recipe to add additional flavors: cinnamon for sweetness or cayenne pepper for heat. You can use Beer Nuts on a PB sandwich, ice cream, salad, yogurt, as a soup garnish and in many other ways—including straight snacking, of course.

Ingredients For 4.5 Cups

  • 4-1/2 cups raw, shelled peanuts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional spices: cayenne, cinnamon or other favorite

    1. BRING peanuts, sugar salt and water to a boil in a saucepan. Continue to boil until all liquid is absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 300°F.

    3. SPREAD nuts on lightly greased jelly roll pan; sprinkle with salt and optional spices as desired. Bake 20 minutes.

    4. REMOVE from oven, gently stir and sprinkle with more salt as desired. Bake for 20 more minutes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Mold In Jelly & Jam

    Invader alert: white mold growing in jelly.
    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    A couple of months ago, we noticed two cottony puffs of white mold growing in a jar of Smucker’s Concord Grape Fruit Spread. We wrote to Smucker’s asking if it was safe to eat, and what caused the mold. We got a response back, but it wasn’t to the questions we asked:

    Thank you for contacting The J.M. Smucker Company with your inquiry regarding Smucker’s® Concord Grape Jam. We greatly appreciate and value the input we receive from our consumers and take very seriously any comments pertaining to product quality.

    Your experience has been brought to the attention of our quality assurance department. We want to assure you that our products are made with the best quality ingredients available and by the most carefully controlled procedures known in the food industry.

    We appreciate the time required to share your comments with us. As a thank you, we are in the process of sending you coupons which you should receive in the mail within two to three business weeks. We hope you will use the coupons to again try our products.

    If you should have further questions or need additional information, please visit us at or contact us at 888-550-9555, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. eastern time.


    Consumer Relations Representative
    Ref # 10145794

    We responded to Susan’s email with a second request to answer the questions and never heard back (nor, for the record, did we received any coupons).

    This week, mold appeared in a second jar of Smucker’s, the Red Raspberry Spread. So rather than try to re-contact the unhelpful customer service department at Smucker’s, we went online to search for the answers. Here’s an answer from the National Center For Home Food Preservation:

    Q. What do I do if there’s mold on my jellied fruit product?

    A. Discard jams and jellies with mold on them. The mold could be producing a mycotoxin (a poisonous substance that can make you ill). The USDA and microbiologists recommend against scooping out the mold and using the remaining jam or jelly.

    Gee, you’d think Smucker’s might have warned customers against eating jelly with white mold—especially because it may well not have been their “fault” (see the next section). Perhaps they can take the information we found and paste it into a helpful customer service response.

    Aside from the mold—and the lack of help from Smucker’s—the spreads were delish.



    Typically, jelly and jam don’t develop mold on their own, because of the high acid of the fruit and the preservative action of the sugar. But mold spores can sometimes enter a jelly jar via contamination from a utensil that was previously used on another foodstuff—the bread for example. A microscopic piece of bread with a mold spore can adhere to the spoon or knife when you spread the jelly on the bread.

    We refrigerate open jars, and we’re especially cautious of cross-contamination, using a separate spoon for the jelly. But it is possible that when we spread the first spoonful of jelly on the bread, it picked up a microscopic mold spore that got introduced to the jar when we went for a second spoonful.


    A jar can get mold contamination from a spore of bread. Photo courtesy Peanut Butter & Co.


    So today’s tip is: Don’t double dip that spoon or knife. And toss out a jar with mold.


    There are thousands, if not millions, of different types of mold, from beneficial ones like penicillium (which is used to make the mold in blue cheeses) to toxic ones. Experts warn that scooping out the visible mold is not a solution, since the mold shoots microscopic tendrils deep into the foodstuff.

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you can save hard cheeses, firm fruits and vegetables by cutting out at least an inch around and underneath the mold spot. But the organization advises you to toss baked goods, bread, casseroles, grain, jams and jellies, legumes, meat, nuts, pasta, peanut butter, soft cheeses, soft fruits and vegetables, sour cream, yogurt and other foods.

    The list of what you can keep is easy to remember because it’s so brief: hard cheeses, fruits and vegetables. Bid adios to everything else.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Honey & Nuts Spread & Topping

    Homemade honey with nuts. Photo courtesy


    Honey Nuts Cheerios, Chex, Shredded Wheat and Special K; honey nut peanut butter and honey-roasted nuts: Honey and nuts are a natural pairing.

    If you’ve got nuts and honey, you can take the duo one step further:

    Combine them into a delicious bread spread and dessert topping, as people in Greece, Italy and elsewhere in the Mediterranean have been doing for thousands of years.

    You can find jars of honey with nuts at stores that specialize in Greek and Italian foods, or in cheese shops. They are lovely gifts and stocking stuffers.



  • Any honey*
  • Any nuts*
  • Glass jar†
    *Quantities depend on how much you are making and the capacity of the jar(s). While the photo above is more than half nuts, think of using 2/3 honey to 1/3 nuts—or even 1/4 nuts, if you want just a little. While whole nuts look prettier, they are not as spreadable. So if your goal is to make a bread spread rather than a dessert topping, consider chopping large nuts.

    †If you’re making this for home use, you can recycle an empty jar. If it’s for a gift, look for a prettier jar.



    1. TOAST nuts in a hot, dry pan, keeping them moving until the aroma wafts up (how to toast nuts). Cool.

    2. LAYER the nuts and honey in a clean jar. The nuts may migrate to the top of the jar, but you can easily stir them prior to use.


    If you like the combination, try different variations: sage honey with walnuts, orange blossom honey with almonds, and so on.


    Or buy a jar! Photo courtesy Moon Shine Trading Company.



  • As a bread spread
  • As a cheeses condiment
  • As a dip for pretzels, baby carrots, etc.
  • As a fruit topper
  • On ice cream and loaf cakes
  • On pancakes, waffles and French toast
  • Straight from the jar, on a spoon
    How would you use honey and nuts?


    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Jif Whips Peanut Butter & Chocolate Spread

    Style your own cookies with Jif Whips. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    We focus on specialty foods, so rarely name a mass-marketed supermarket product as a Top Pick.

    But Jif’s new Whipped Peanut Butter & Chocolate spread is just so yummy, special and, well, welcome, that it takes this week’s top honors.

    Everyone who loves peanut butter cups should run out and buy a tub, possibly several.

    The whipped PB spread, which also includes an unsweetened Creamy Peanut Butter variety, is spreadable, dippable, mixable, pipeable, frostable and topable.

    If you don’t want to do any of those things, just dip a spoon into the tub and enjoy!

    Read the full review.





    PRODUCT: Christine Ferber Jam

    Connoisseurs worldwide prize the exquisite jams of Christine Ferber, who is called the “queen of confitures”* by strangers and “the jam fairy” by her friends. The jams are served in such posh places as the Connaught in London, the Crillon and George V in Paris and the Four Seasons in Hong Kong.

    Mlle Ferber makes jam in the Alsace region of France, in her ancestral village of Niedermorschwihr. There, her family has a food shop, Au Relais des Trois Epis,† which sells bread, house-made cakes and confections, household products, newspapers and fresh vegetables. Her father opened the business in 1959.

    But behind the shop is a commercial kitchen where the jam magic happens: After attending culinary school in Paris, Mlle Ferber decided to focus on jam. Her father was doubted the demand, but today she sells some $2.6 million of jam annually. The company make almost 120,000 pots of jam a year, and each is filled by hand.


    Seasonal special: rhubarb jam. Photo courtesy Oriol Balaguer.


    Mlle Ferber uses seasonal fruit from small local growers, cooking it in small batches to create her gourmet artisan jams and jellies. She prides herself in hand-picking the freshest ingredients and truly, truly, cooking the jam with love.

    The jams are not easy to come by. You can order them online from

    A perfect Father’s Day gift for a jam-loving dad who appreciates the best, a new shipment of Christine Ferber Jams is arriving on these shores just in time to celebrate. Even at $20 a jar it will sell out quickly, so don’t dally. The jam is available for pre-order now, with delivery after June 10th.


    One thing Dad may never have had: rhubarb jam. Mlle Ferber has created two varieties of rhubarb jam, hand-selected from spring rhubarb in Alsace, France and sweetened with sugar, simple and fresh:

  • Rhubarbe d’Alsace
  • Rhubarbe d’Alsace et Vanille
    Other flavores include Griottes Alsace (morello cherries, one of Mlle Ferber’s personal favorites), Confiture Pour Madame (cherries and rose petals, Eglantines d’Alsace et Oranges Maltaises (maltese oranges and wild rose petals), Forêt-Noire (black cherries, kirsch), Fraises d’Alsace (Alsatian strawberry), Gelée de Pamplemousses Jaunes (grapefruit), Mangues (mango), Marmelade d’Oranges Ameres (bitter orange), Oranges Maltaises (Maltese orange), Oranges Sanguine (blood orange) and Quetsches d’Alsace (Damson plum).

    For a memorable jam experience, get some jars for yourself, too!


    What’s the difference between jam, jelly, marmalade, preserves and other sweet spreads? Check out all the different types of jam in our Jam & Jelly Glossary.
    *Confiture (cawn-fee-TEER) is the French word for jam.

    †As close as we can translate this, it’s The Inn of Three Ears of Corn.



    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


    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 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 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 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 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 …


    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.





    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.



    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.


    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!



    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.


    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



    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, 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.



    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.




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