Blackberries and raspberries might seem interchangeable, in theory. But as any berry fan will tell you, the flavor profiles of these late summer favorites can differ immensely, especially once they are cooked down and made into jellies and jams. Good blackberry preserves manage to capture the berry’s almost bitter tartness. Raspberries, on the other hand, have a much lighter and sweeter taste. When done well, raspberry preserves can highlight the berry’s sweetness without strangling its tangy qualities.
Whether you’re spreading it on toast or planning to incorporate it into homemade pastries, we’re here to help you find the best commercial jarred raspberries for your money. Recently, we sampled six different varieties of red raspberry jams, jellies and preserves, all of which are available online or in stores. Here are our rankings, from best to worst.
Danish Orchards Fruit Preserves ($4.59 for 28 oz)
Danish Orchards nabs our top spot in this taste test for many of the same reasons that its blackberry preserves received our top accolade in that match-up. In addition to tasting incredible, Danish Orchards offers the best budget deal among its competitors. At 8 grams per serving, it also has the lowest sugar. The tub might take up a bit more room in the fridge, but in our opinion, it’s worth it.
Signature Select Raspberry Preserves ($3.59 for 13 oz)
Safeway’s red raspberry preserves prove how hit or miss generics can be (which is why it’s important to try them out). While Signature Select’s blackberry preserves didn’t have much flavor, its raspberry preserves were practically bursting with tart sweetness. As with most preserves, there are some seeds in Signature Select’s offering. At 12 grams of sugar, it’s also not the lightest of the brands we tried. But if you can’t find Danish Orchards, then Signature Select is a good backup.
O Organics Raspberry Preserves ($4.59 for 11 oz)
Technically, O Organics’ product wins two titles here — best organic and best preserves. Of all of the varieties we tried, O Organics had the best thickness and tartness without containing an overwhelming number of seeds. Our sole complaint is that it contains 12 grams of sugar, which seems to be the average among commercial red raspberry jams. Even if organic isn’t particularly important to you, you won’t go wrong by keeping this jam in your pantry.
Puget Sound Raspberry Jam ($8.09 for 16.5 oz) and Smucker’s Seedless Red Raspberry Jam ($3.49 for 18 oz)
Smuckers’ blackberry jam was an admitted disappointment to us, which is why we’re so glad to report that their red raspberry is astoundingly on par with Puget Sound’s local offering. Smuckers even edges out Puget Sound’s jam in terms of tartness, though at 11 grams, Puget Sound’s jam contains slightly less sugar than Smuckers. If you’re in the Seattle area, then go ahead and grab the local brand. But otherwise, if you’re a fan of seedless spreads, then Smuckers is probably the best bet for your table.
Not Our Favorite
Danish Orchards Organic Fruit Spread Raspberry ($4.09 for 14 oz)
As much as we’ve enjoyed Danish Orchards' other offerings, it was a surprise to us to have to put this fruit spread in last place. Maybe we just got a bad batch. The raspberry fruit spread we tried was strangely watery, however, and didn’t have as much punch as we’d come to expect from the company. Considering that their fruit preserve tub contains twice the preserves (and at least twice the flavor), we’d consider picking up that variety instead.
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