Very few were *actually* my jam
Credit: Photo by Kate Welsh

There is nothing better than a piece of toast slathered with butter and topped with a thick layer of strawberry jam. Ideally, the tart, sweet, ruby-red spread mingles with the salty, creamy butter, and gives way to a satisfying toast crackle.

I love a jar of a grocery store strawberry jam as much as the next person, but—after the nearly-religious fancy butter experience I had with the Extra Crispy team—I couldn’t help but wonder how things would change if I tried out fancy jam, too. I’m talking jams that are $7 or $9 or even $16—not a standard $3 or $5.

While Bonne Maman will always have a place on my shelf, some of these jams were truly outstanding.

Listed from worst to best, here are my fancy strawberry jam rankings.

Greecologie Strawberry Preserves, $16

One of the most expensive jams on the table turned out to be not a jam at all. Instead, this tall bottle held whole strawberries in a dark syrup. Super sweet and entirely unspreadable, I could see this as an ice cream topping, but not much else. On a different note, it was a little unsettling to find something crossed out on the ingredients list. On to the next.

Maxim’s de Paris Strawberry Marshmallow Preserves, $15

The expensive jams didn’t fare well here, huh? Overwhelmingly sweet, Maxim’s jam was like spreadable fruity cotton candy. The strawberry flavor was nice, but the headache from the sugar afterwards was not.

Achillea Confettura Extra di Fragola, $10

Achillea has a salsa jar-like container and the appearance of barbeque sauce. It’s super liquidy and almost black in color. While there’s a true, vibrant strawberry scent, unfortunately the taste is bitter and almost metallic. No thanks.

Albergian Strawberry Compote, $10

Perhaps appropriately for an Italian jam, I couldn’t help but notice how much this jam looked like marinara sauce. While the smell was incredible, the texture and taste left a lot to be desired. I wasn’t expecting this jam to be fibrous and loose—almost tapenade-esque. And while most strawberry jams we tried got knocked for being too sweet, this one had the opposite problem—it was lip-puckeringly tart, like the strawberries had been picked before they ripened.

St. Dalfour Strawberry Jam, $6

This tall, thin jar of jam had more of a jelly-consistency, which is to say there was little-to-no texture whatsoever. The taste, too, was pretty unremarkable. I’m not sure there was a huge difference from a packet of strawberry jam you’d get a diner. It was fine, but nothing to write home about.

Lucien Georgelin Strawberry Fruit Spread, $8

This was a solid jam, and I mean that literally and figuratively. The texture was dense and almost a little too smooth. The sweetness was a little overwhelming, but it wasn’t as headache-inducing as other options.

Stonewall Kitchen Strawberry Jam, $8

With Stonewall Kitchen’s strawberry jam was a great, textured consistency and a really lovely ruby red color, I was set up to love this one. Unfortunately, it also had a rubbery, metallic-y undercurrent to the sweet flavor that wasn’t my favorite.

Sarabeth’s Strawberry Raspberry Jam, $9

One of my fellow tasters described Sarabeth’s jam as “truly spreadable fruit.” That’s to say: You absolutely knew it was strawberries and raspberries you smeared on a piece of bread. That’s a compliment—the texture was spot on and lovely. This was a little too sweet for me, but also offered some—but not enough—tartness.

Scyavuru Sicilian Strawberry Jam, $9

This tiny jar offered one of the most peculiar jams we tried. The consistency was almost like ketchup—a little drippy—and unlike many of the jams that smelled exactly like ripe strawberries, this one smelled decidedly less sweet. The taste was rich, deep, dark and tart—certainly not what you usually think of when you try strawberry jam. It was super interesting, and while I wouldn’t reach for this for everyday, this was one of my fellow taster’s favorites.

Maison Francis Miot Strawberry Jam, $9

This jar offered a normal-but-better jam experience. It was a gorgeous rich red color and was a really classic jam consistency: a little chunky, in a good way. The flavor was not outstanding, but was really pleasant: not too sweet and not too tart. This is a lovely jam to have on hand.

Agrimontana Confitura Extra Strawberry, $10

This was basically the Italian version of the Maison Francis Miot: “Normal-but-better.” Suitingly, my notes for this one are super similar. Chunky in a good way. Pleasant-but-not-outstanding little bit sweet, little bit tart flavor.

Moreno Cedroni Lemon Thyme Strawberry Jam, $8

This perfume bottle-like container had an almost laughably small mouth, but fortunately, the contents inside lived up to their fancy presentation. The color is quite dark, and the consistency is definitely on the smooth side. The flavor is really special: The lemon thyme addition adds this subtly herbaceous, zesty accent that plays well with the strawberry.

Alain Milliat Strawberry Sengana, $10

One of my fellow tasters took one bite of this and said, in a very satisfied way, “It’s complicated.” I agree. After a cornucopia of one-note jams, this one was actually a revelation. This tasted like the truest encapsulation of those perfect first-of-the-season strawberries you get at the farmer’s market: tart, sweet, custard-y, green. It was rich and slightly chunky in the best way. This is the one I’d love to have in the fridge for morning that need a special edge.