Jams vs fruit spreads review and compare

In the battle between jam and fruit spreads, CHOICE taste testers discover true value.
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  • Updated:20 May 2009

01 .Introduction

Scones with jam and cream

In brief

  • Despite the term’s implication, some fruit spreads actually contain less fruit than regular jam.
  • Price is no guarantee of taste; our testers rated one of the cheapest jams among the best and one of the most expensive as the worst.

The term “fruit spread” somehow sounds so much healthier and fruitier than plain old jam. The reality, however, is that while jam has its own food standard and strict definition, fruit spread and spreadable fruit don’t. And in the absence of any clear definition or standard, fruit spread or spreadable fruit could be just about anything fruity and spreadable – which covers a lot of ground when food technology is involved. Some are essentially regular jam with a fancy name; others are cleverly concocted to be significantly lower in kilojoules and sugar.

Then there are spreads that are simply a fruity blend of marketing and sugars.

  • “100% fruit spread” may conjure images of chunky fruit minus all the fattening sugar you’d find in jam, substituting sugars from fruit (usually from concentrated grape, apple or pear juice) for regular sugar does precious little for the waistline – although some have a few less kilojoules per teaspoon overall.
  • Watch out for so-called fruit spreads that simply use the term because they don’t contain enough fruit to call themselves jam; we found two brands with only 30% fruit, below the minimum of 40% required for jam.

CHOICE put a range of jams and spreads to the test, asking 65 ordinary consumers, all staff members, to taste a selection of widely available strawberry varieties (one of the most popular flavours). The 10 products our trialists liked best are listed alphabetically in our What to Buy. Perhaps surprisingly, one of the lowest kilojoule spreads tasted just as good as its sugar-heavy cousins. Our test also found price is no indication of taste. In fact, one of the most expensive spreads was least popular overall.

Please note: this information was current as of May 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.

Brands taste tested

  • Bonne Maman Strawberry
  • Charles Jacquin Strawberry Fruit Spread
  • Coles $mart Buy Strawberry Spread
  • Cottee's Delightful Strawberry Spread
  • Cottee's Strawberry conserve
  • Golden Circle Strawberry Conserve
  • Grandessa Strawberry Conserve (ALDI)
  • Hero Strawberry
  • Home Brand Strawberry Jam (Woolworths)
  • IXL All About Fruit Strawberry Spread
  • IXL Strawberry Conserve
  • Monbulk Strawberry Spreadable Fruit
  • Ouverture Strawberry Fruit Spread (ALDI)
  • Rose's Summer Strawberry Gourmet Conserve
  • St. Dalfour Strawberry 100% Spreadable Fruit
  • Weight Watchers Strawberry Fruit Spread
  • Wilkin & Sons Ltd Tiptree Organic Strawberry Reduced Sugar Jam
  • Woolworths Select Strawberry Jam
  • Yackandandah Strawberry
  • You'll Love Coles Strawberry Jam
  • Young Maid Strawberry Jam

Jam: A preserve of whole fruit, slightly crushed, boiled with sugar.
– Macquarie Dictionary

Fruit spread: A healthier-sounding version of jam.

Preserving your jam

Jam seems relatively indestructible; before refrigeration, making jam was one of the few ways people could store fruit for later use. Properly made, the sealed jars are sterile until opened and the high sugar content puts the brakes on the growth of food-spoilage bacteria. But as anyone who’s retrieved a long-opened jar of jam from the back of the fridge knows, it can still go mouldy on the surface.

All the spreads in our test carry a recommendation that you refrigerate them after opening, which is good advice for maximising their safe life. But in the case of lower-sugar varieties, refrigeration is absolutely essential, even though they may contain a preservative, as once opened they deteriorate rapidly if left at room temperature.

Leaving the lid off a jam jar, even for a short while between spreading on toast, allows mould spores floating in the air to settle on the surface. Put the lid on as soon as possible to keep your jam mould-free for longer.

Can you safely scrape any mould off the surface and eat the rest? Moulds have invisible filaments that can burrow deep into a soft food, so it’s safest to throw the jam away as soon as you see any.


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The following products scored the best results in our test:
What to buy
Brand Price
Black & Gold Strawberry Jam $0.49 / 100g
Cottee’s Delightful Strawberry Spread $1.05 / 100g
Cottee’s Strawberry Conserve $0.70 / 100g
Hero Strawberry Preserves $1.47 / 100g
IXL All About the Fruit Strawberry Spread $1.07 / 100g
IXL Strawberry Conserve $0.58 / 100g
Ouverture Strawberry Fruit Spread (ALDI) $0.80 / 100g
St Dalfour Strawberry 100% Spreadable Fruit $1.40 / 100g
Wilkin & Sons Tiptree Organic Strawberry Reduced Sugar Jam $2.06 / 100g
Young Maid Strawberry Jam $2.06 / 100g

Results table

Jams vs fruit spreads results table

Budget Best Buy

Black & Gold Strawberry Jam

Price $0.49 / 100gBlack and Gold strawberry jam

Energy 1114 kJ / 100g

Strawberry content 40%

One of the top-tasting jams, but only a quarter the price of the most expensive. Made with 40% strawberries, it was given the thumbs up by most of our tasters as fruity and sweet.

Dieter's special

Cottee’s Delightful Strawberry Spread

Price $1.05 / 100gCottee's delightful strawberry jam

Energy 600 kJ / 100g

Strawberry content 50%

One for the kilojoule-conscious jam lover. Our tasters liked it as much as others with twice the kilojoules. Cottee’s achieves this by using 50% strawberry (some of it as juice) and cutting the added sugar. Clever use of thickeners and a dash of preservative do the rest.

Packed with strawberries

Wilkin & Sons Tiptree Organic Strawberry Reduced Sugar Jam

Price $2.06 / 100gWilkin and sons Tiptree organic strawberry reduced sugar jam

Energy 850 kJ / 100g

Strawberry content 65%

It’s by far the most expensive on test, but is also certified organic and made with an impressive 65% strawberries. While it’s reduced in sugar compared with regular Wilkin & Sons products, there are many lower-sugar spreads in our test without the reduced-sugar claim.