Trending Now: Savory Jams, from Bacon to Parsley

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A new generation of jams is upon us — more savory than sweet.

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Most of us, when we conjure the flavor of jams in our mind’s eye (or maybe our mind’s mouth?), probably think of sweet berries and sugary fruits. But a new generation of jams is upon us, and they are more savory than sweet, featuring ingredients like peppers, onions, garlic and herbs.

According to NPR’s The Salt, in 2015 savory jams — some may consider them “spreads” — edged out Sriracha as “the fastest-growing condiment for sandwiches and burgers.” The food blog, citing numbers from menu-trend market research firm Datassential, noted that “bacon jam” showed the biggest sales growth, with “tomato jam” (don’t call it ketchup) right behind, and peppers, flowers and extracts of various sorts (like Earl Gray tea and parsley) finding popularity as well.

Here are five “savory jam” takeaways from NPR’s thoughtful consideration to savor:

1: They’re lower in sugar than traditional jams. That’s thanks to sugar-free pectins first brought to market in the 1980s that allow jams to gel without sugar, using chemicals such as calcium instead.

2: They play into our current taste for sweet-savory blends (think salted caramels).

3: They allow us to eat local fruits and veggies in any season.

4: They stretch the definition of jam. While some say jam is simply the result of cooking down fruit and sugar, with a gel forming as the fruit’s pectins mixed with the sugar, others say it’s more about preservation or canning — and still others say anything that can be spread on bread is a jam.

5: They require a certain level of vigilance when it comes to safety. “Reducing sugar means less gelling and more water, a breeding ground for pathogens such as E. coli and Listeria,” NPR notes. “Reducing or eliminating fruit, meanwhile, lowers acidity, which can increase the likelihood of botulism, a serious foodborne illness. Preserved jams with a pH higher than 4.6 are not safe for consumption.” To make sure canning has been successful, the blog suggests readers “listen for the telltale pop.”

Definitely sounds suitable for a toast. Cheers!

Looking for a savory jam recipe? Try Spicy Tomato Jam, Onion Jam or Red Pepper Savory Jam.

Photo courtesy of iStock