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As long as humans have roamed the earth, they’ve eaten fruit. And as human technology has evolved, humans have developed new and different ways to eat that fruit, whether it’s as a juice, a sauce, or a spread.
That third category — spreads — has changed a lot in the last century or so. Thanks to innovations in cooking and canning, it’s now possible to produce spreads that can be sealed and stored at room temperature until they’re opened. That’s how Welch’s produced one of the first commercial spreads in 1918, just in time to ship off to American soldiers deployed overseas during World War I.
Today, you can easily get spreads from your grocer. You can get preserves, a spread that includes full pieces of fruit. You can get jams, which are made from mashed fruit. Or you can get jelly, which is a simple combination of fruit juice, sugar, and pectin. The last of these three is the most popular today, and it can be found at just about every store that sells food, even most gas stations.
Dollar stores also sell jelly. That includes Dollar General. That can be quite important, since Dollar General is often found in remote areas where other stores don’t exist. DG typically shelves both name brand and house brand jellies, so we decided to try the house brand to see how it stacked up.
Clover Valley Grape Jelly comes in a glass jar and can be found on the dry goods food shelves in the store. Clover Valley is a Dollar General exclusive brand. The packaging notes that it is distributed by Old East Main Co., a DG company. The jar states that it is packed in Egypt.
Like most other jellies, it can be stored at room temperature while sealed but needs to be refrigerated after opening.
The version we bought comes in an 18-ounce glass container and currently costs $2. That comes out to about 11 cents an ounce. For comparison, Walmart’s Great Value Grape Jelly costs virtually the same for the same-sized container, while Smucker’s runs closer to 16 cents an ounce. You can get better prices on jelly at Walmart, but you’ll have to buy larger containers to get it.
The jelly contains four ingredients: fruit juice, sugar, citric acid, and fruit pectin.
Nutritionally, what you expect is what you get. One tablespoon has 50 calories and 12 grams of added sugar. There isn’t much else here in the way of nutritional value.
We test drove this jelly in the most American way possible: by pairing it with peanut butter. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive. The last time I tried out a spread from a dollar store — strawberry preserves from Family Dollar — I was disappointed.
Not this time. This jelly went on smooth and easy, with a texture made for bread. Better yet, it tasted like I would expect from a jelly — sweet with that distinct grape flavor. Our testers wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between this jelly and other store jellies we’ve had in the past.
Dollar General’s Clover Valley Grape Jelly delivers. It tastes like what we’d want grape jelly to taste, and it spreads easily. Better yet, the price is on par with other private label jellies. If you’re at DG and need grape jelly, this looks like a good option.