Happy New Year! Perhaps, like me, you resolved to eat healthier in 2015. How is that going? An essential part of eating better is reading labels and ingredients. How can you eat better if you don’t know what you’re eating, right? So I decided to check out the jelly competition and see what ingredients the other jam-makers are using. I noted the ingredients used in a well-known and much-beloved jam sold in most major grocery stores on the West Coast. The first ingredient (thankfully) was fruit but the next items were high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. Fruit pectin and citric acid were also added. Now pectin and citric acid are both naturally occurring substances and essential to making jam; however, to make jam on a bulk scale they must be added. Pectin is the thickening agent. I find that I need to use much more sugar when I use store-bought pectin to make jam but on the plus side, I get a greater yield of jam. Hmmm….but it’s all about the flavor, right? Absolutely! So I focus on the flavor. I believe that if you want great-tasting jam, you need to start with sweet, locally grown fruit. I cook the fruit down so that you can actually taste the berries (or apples or oranges) and not a spoonful of fruit-flavored sugar. Yes, Etta Mae Gourmet jams and preserves still have sugar but you won’t see high fructose corn syrup listed on my label. Enjoy!