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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Trader Joe's Apple Cider Fruit Spread

Exactly 400 years ago today, the Mayflower arrived at what is now known as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims had been at sea for 66 days. They weathered heavy storms between England and the New World, many had been severely ill during their journey, and one sailor even died. They nearly lost one of their main masts but were able to repair it as they traveled.

Their first winter in America was even more harsh than their voyage across the Atlantic. Nearly half of all the Pilgrims perished in the next few months. The First Thanksgiving wouldn't take place until over a year after their first landing. By then they had food, shelter, and Native American friends, but the road to that point was a long and bumpy one. I was originally going to segue with something about apples, but turns out apples didn't even exist in North America at the time. So I'll go with this: the point is that they never gave up, not even in the darkest winter.

Likewise, Trader Joe's never gave up on this product—or, more precisely, its predecessor, the Apple Cider Jam. I thought it seemed popular enough and it was definitely good enough, but Trader Joe's saw fit to rename, repackage, and reformulate it, resulting in the fruit spread you see here. It could be they just went with a different supplier, but who knows? Honestly, who cares? Because this version is at least as good as the last.


At first glance, the spread seems to have virtually identical ingredients to the jam. But upon closer inspection, we see that the sugar is now "organic cane sugar." Okay, that's good. There's "apple juice" in this one, rather than "cider" in its predecessor. Hmm, weird. But if anything, I think it makes this iteration just a hint sweeter. Also, this version actually lists "cinnamon, mace (not like pepper spray) cloves, ginger, coriander, allspice, and cardamom" rather than simply the mysterious and vague "spices" noted in the older version. It's a great spice blend to complement the sweetness, not overpowering at all, but festive and fall-ish.

It could be my imagination, but I think the apple chunks here are more angular and irregular than the jam version. It was almost as if the chunks were all the same size and somewhat cubicle shaped before, while these are more random. It feels like someone cut these apple chunks by hand while the other chunks felt like they were diced by a machine.


Like the original, this one is great on toast with cream cheese, plain yogurt, waffles, as a filling for a pie, or as a baste for poultry—I'd totally try it on a Thanksgiving turkey. We even used it as a marmalade type sauce for fried butterfly shrimp and we both loved it. At $3.49, this one's a tad cheaper and it's still the same size jar (12oz).

Four and a half stars a piece from Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

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