THE VIRGINIA SHOPPER is not a huge jelly (or jam) lover, but the rest of the world has this remarkable craving. I swear my entire family are wild for the berry varieties, and anything else they discover sitting on a pantry shelf. They aren’t fussy either. The stuff can come from the local supermarket and be of the super-saver, value-plus ilk. On the other hand, if it is homemade and has that best of the best taste you can only get with fresh, natural ingredients, they tend to “lose it”. This means, the jam or jelly disappears off the shelf and out of the refrigerator in literally a day!
The truth is, jams, jellies and marmalades make fabulous gifts. Combined with biscuits and a basket, they make a charming presentation. One or two jars of the Best of the Best make great souvenir gifts from returning travelers. Actually, certain jam or jelly varieties are growing on The Shopper, so much so that they are suddenly becoming a breakfast staple!
So, THE VIRGINIA SHOPPER has been on the prowl again – searching this time for unforgettably delicious jams and jellies. There are a lot of contenders in this state that call themselves the best.
But, the winner, “hands-down,” are the Fancy Hill Jams and Jellies (available at Virginia Born and Bred ).
A DELICACY’S HISTORY
The history of jam and jelly goes back centuries. It is believed that returning Crusaders first introduced it to Europe. The word “jelly” comes from the French word, “gelee” which means to congeal, and marmalade was created in 1561 by the physician to Mary, Queen of Scots, when he mixed orange and crushed sugar to keep her seasickness at bay.
But, just so I don’t get mixed up on the differences between jams, jellies and marmalades, here’s a short synopsis:
Jam’s a funny thing and it’s different from jelly because it contains both fruit juice and pieces of the fruit. It refers to a product made with whole fruit, cut into pieces or crushed.
Jelly is a clear or translucent fruit spread made from sweetened fruit juice and set using naturally occurring pectin. It is made in a similar way to jam, with the additional step of filtering out the fruit pulp after the initial heating. Good jelly is clear and sparkling.
And then there’s Marmalade. The Shopper has a weakness for marmalade, which is a sweet preserve with a bitter tang and is usually derived from a citrus fruit, most commonly oranges.
You will find Virginia’s Fancy Hill varieties are truly the Best of the Best. I actually visited the home kitchen where they are genuinely “home-made” – one pot at a time, and with caring, loving hands. The taste is always the test, and the recipes handed down in this family for generations guarantee that each jar will literally fly off the pantry shelf and out of the refrigerator in days!
Varieties offered at Virginia Born and Bred: Apple Butter, Blackberry Jam, Blueberry Apple Jelly, Strawberry-rhubarb Jam, Peach Jam, Green Pepper Jelly, Hot Red Pepper Jelly, Raspberry Preserves, Cherry Preserves, Orange Marmalade, Raspberry Rhubarb Jam, Spiced tomato Jam, Garlic Mint Jelly, Hot Raspberry Jam and Very Berry Jam. At Christmas, they always have Christmas Jam and upon occasion they have Apricot Jam, Black Raspberry Jam, and Damson Preserves.