Here's Why You Should Be Salting Your Store-Bought Jam

Making jars of homemade jam from scratch requires lots of things that busy humans may just not have: Like time to slowly simmer fresh fruit and sugar into the right consistency, equipment to properly seal the jam in canning jars, or a place to store all that homemade spread. Thank goodness store-bought jam is so easy to find; it may not be as delicious as homemade, but it'll do. Well, TikTok just taught us a couple of tricks to make brand name jam taste even better.

In their TikTok video, Bon Appétit does the unexpected by adding in a generous pinch of salt to store-bought jam, stirring to combine the two. Salted jam? Believe it or not, it makes this fruity spread taste even sweeter and jammier. 

Here's why: Eater explains that salt acts as a flavor booster in most foods, and sugary foods are no exception. Our brains are wired to crave sugar, both for the hit of dopamine happiness and for an energy boost. Our bodies also crave salt as an essential nutrient. Putting these two, base drives together means that sweet jam with a pinch of salt tastes better than jam alone. Here's another simple add-in that Bon Appétit says improves the flavor of store-bought jam.

Adding this acid makes jam tastier, too

The other secret to doctoring store bought jam for better flavor is to blend in a squeeze of lemon juice. In their TikTok post, Bon Appétit explains that the addition of citrus "wakes up all the flavors." How does it do this? In an interview with NPR, "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" author Samin Nosrat shares that acids like lemon juice are a good balance for sugary foods. Without this balance, sugary foods — like jams and jellies — may seem one dimensional, with the sweetness dominating the taste experience. Lemon juice adds complexity and makes the jam more delicious.

When getting ready to add salt and lemon juice to store bought jam, keep in mind that the goal is to enhance the natural fruit flavor of the spread — too much of either component may ruin it. Start by measuring out the amount of jam required for the dish you're preparing, whether to sandwich between cookies, spoon onto a cake, or spread on a piece of toast. Add the salt in tiny pinches, stirring it in and tasting before adding more. The same goes with lemon juice: Add just a drop or two to begin, and then take a taste. When the jam tastes brighter and fruiter than it did out of the jar, that's your cue that it has just the right amount of salt and acid.