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Whether it’s slathered on bread for PB&J, spread between vanilla cake layers, or used as the garnet center of a buttery thumbprint cookie, strawberry jam is undeniably delicious. The experts of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute test kitchens think made-from-scratch can’t be beat, but can store-bought deliver fresh-fruit flavor that’s almost as good?

We asked 16 tasters to sample 15 nationally available strawberry jams and preserves on white bread. Our volunteers had no trouble identifying potential winners — in fact, the results were so close, the food department had to dig in a second time for a taste-off. The results:

First Place:

Welch’s Strawberry Spread
($3.53 for 32 oz.)

The “classic” texture and “bright” flavor boosted Welch’s spread straight to the top of the list. “This is exactly how I want my jam to taste,” noted one happy volunteer. And considering the size of the jar, this jam is budget-friendly too.
50 calories per tablespoon.

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Honorable Mention:

Gedney State Fair Strawberry Preserves
($3.99 to $4.29 for 16.5 oz.)

Made with just sugar, strawberries, fruit pectin, and citric acid, these preserves are as close to homemade as they come. Our tasters loved the “nice tartness” and “excellent berry taste.”
50 calories per tablespoon.

Smucker’s Strawberry Preserves
($2.59 to $2.69 for 12 oz.)

This famed spread impressed with its thick, chunky texture, but it tasted a little overcooked to some testers.
50 calories per tablespoon.

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Tiptree Little Scarlet Strawberry Conserve
($17.99 for 12 oz.)

Tasters rated the strawberry flavor as too subtle, but they appreciated the smooth texture with interspersed chunks.
54 calories per tablespoon.

Smucker’s Low Sugar Preserves
($2.69 to $2.79 for 10 oz.)

Tasters had a hard time getting past the bright red color and the gummy texture, but found the flavor to be unexpectedly berry-full.
25 calories per tablespoon.

Stonewall Kitchen Strawberry Jam
($3.50 for 4 oz.; $7.75 for 13 oz.)

Neither smooth nor lumpy, this jam seemed more like a puree of fruit. It came out just average in flavor ratings.
45 calories per tablespoon.

St. Dalfour Strawberry Spread
($3.99 to $4.99 for 10 oz.)

Testers described its texture as thick and luscious, but many found the taste to be too sweet.
70 calories per tablespoon.

Tiptree Strawberry Fruit Spread
($4.99 for 10 oz. )

Tasters liked the chunks of whole berries in this spread. However, they thought the sweetness overpowered the strawberry flavor.
40 calories per tablespoon.

Polaner All-Fruit Strawberry Spreadable Fruit
($2.69 for 10 oz.; $3.49 for 15.25 oz.)
Tasters didn’t like the flavor of this one as much as others, but complimented its nice, smooth texture.
40 calories per tablespoon.

Cascadian Farm Strawberry Fruit Spread
($3.59 for 10 oz.)

Clear and runny, this spread lacked rich strawberry flavor, but wasn’t overly sweet like some others.
40 calories per tablespoon.

Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves
(4.39 for 13 oz.)

This one has rich, intense flavor, but was too sticky and sweet for some tasters.
50 calories per tablespoon.

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Smucker’s Simply Fruit Strawberry
($2.79 to $2.89 for 10.25 oz.)

Tasters missed the chunks in this overly smooth selection. However, they noted it had just the right level of sweetness.
40 calories per tablespoon.

Peanut Butter & Co. Seriously Strawberry Jam
($4.99 for 10.5 oz.)

Though disappointingly thin and runny, this one had a good balance of fruit and sweetness.
40 calories per tablespoon.

365 Strawberry Fruit Spread
($2.29 for 10 oz.; Whole Foods only)

It was easy to spread this smooth, clear jelly, but it definitely lacked fresh strawberry flavor.
35 calories per tablespoon.

Hero Strawberry Preserves
($3.85 for 12 oz.)

These preserves are so sweet, some tasters thought they resembled candy. Others liked the smooth texture dotted with small pieces of fruit.
50 calories per tablespoon.