General Spread Questions
Crofter’s is waiting for you in many major retailers across the USA and Canada. To find the nearest one, please visit our store locator.
The expiration date is printed in black ink on the edge of the cap as EXP followed by the month and year of expiry (for example EXP 06 2014). The expiration date only applies to unopened jars and is a guide for best quality. As long as the jar remains sealed, the spread inside the jar will not go bad or become unsafe, but there will be a gradual loss of quality.
Because our fruit spreads are certified organic, free of preservatives, and contain 1/3 less sugar than a traditional preserve, they need to be handled with more care in order to avoid early spoilage. Refrigeration is a must after opening to maintain quality and avoid it going bad. Here’s some tips to prolong its life: always use a clean utensil, put the cap back on the jar as soon as possible after use, and keep the jar in the coldest part of the fridge (a.k.a. not the door). With some extra love and care, our fruit spreads last longer than 20 days, but since they are so scrumptious, we’re hoping they’ll be empty long before that.
No. Period. The cap should always make a definite ‘pop’ the first time the jar is opened. Crofter’s fruit spread jars are filled and capped while the spread is very hot (we heat it up to pasteurize it). As the product inside the jar cools, it creates a vacuum effect which causes the center of the metal cap to be sucked down. If there is no vacuum, it means that unsterile air has entered the jar. Unsterile air can carry microorganisms which cause food to spoil. So a jar with no vacuum (or no ‘pop’) may be spoiled. So long story short? Does not ‘pop’ = do not eat. Contact us and we will get things straightened out for you!
Nope! You’re good to continue enjoying that tasty spread. You are welcome to remove it or mix it in, but it’s a natural occurrence in a spread that has ⅓ less sugar than a traditional preserve and far more fruit. In some cases, some of the water which is bound by our top-notch apple pectin can separate which causes the watery appearance. It's completely normal. Some flavors are more prone to this than others, but this definitely does not mean that the fruit spread is spoiled. Taste on!
What's In (And Missing) From The Spreads
Yes! Our fruit spreads meet all categories of vegetarian including vegan. We use no animal ingredients of any kind, and our organic cane sugar is produced without the use of bone-char. Enjoy!
No. All of our spreads are gluten free. Fruit is naturally gluten free as are all the ingredients in our fruit spreads. Our plant is also gluten free, since we only make fruit products.
The pectins we use are made from apples. In fact, our pectins are extracted from the apple pulp leftover from making apple juice, so in a way they are products of recycling. Just another way we’re trying to cut down on waste and give you the tastiest spread.
No, Crofter’s fruit spreads do not contain corn and are safe for people with corn allergies. The citric acid and ascorbic acid in our spreads are mainly derived from corn; however, the purified, pharmaceutical-grade acids we use (citric USP35, Ascorbic USP34), no longer contain any traces of corn and comply with organic and Non-GMO standards. Both of these acids naturally occur in fruits, but the levels vary from variety to variety. That is why we add a very small amount of both acids to our products: to standardize acid levels.
Although our facility is not certified as ‘nut free’, we only produce fruit spreads in our plant. We do not manufacture any products which contain nuts or ingredients derived from nuts. We can confirm that from the time that the ingredients reach our facility to when the jar is sealed, our fruit spreads have not been in contact with nuts or nut products.
No. No. And no.
Any naturally occurring sulfite levels present in our red grape concentrates are below the government standard of 10 ppm in the finished spread. Under certain conditions, a wild yeast may develop during maceration of organic red grapes, and this yeast has the curious ability to form sulfites. While not always the case, this naturally occurring trace amount may end up in the organic red grape concentrate. Our suppliers are aware of this, and work with us to keep sulfites at 10 ppm or below. Any spread without red grapes, however, is squeaky clean of sulfites.
We sure did! Even though our spreads never had test results indicating BPA contamination, we took the safe route. In 2017, we changed our lids to a type of closure called BPANI (BPA Non Intent). These caps are made without any materials intentionally containing BPA. So we never have to worry about it, and neither do you.
Nitty Gritty Nutrition Details
Organic regulations clearly prohibit the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in organic agriculture and organic processing, however this restriction has not been well communicated to consumers. We want to be sure that our commitment to non-GMO foods is loud, clear, and double checked by an organization that only focuses on making sure foods are GMO-free: the Non-GMO Project. Because we care.
Yes. But on top of that, our Just Fruit and Premium spreads both have a 35% lower Glycemic Load (GL)—the total amount of sugars you consume—than a traditional preserve or jam, because Crofter’s contains ⅓ less sugar and ⅓ less calories than both. To get to this answer, however, Crofter’s commissioned a well known independent laboratory to perform Glycemic Index (GI) testing. This isn’t a typical laboratory measurement where a sample of fruit spread is tested with a so-called “GI tester” (those don’t exist). Instead, GI testing involves a lucky group of people who consume a standard amount of fruit spread and then measure the increase in their blood sugar level over time. The test results told us that there is really not a significant difference in GI between the two types of products. In fact, our conclusion was that for fruit spreads, the GL is more important. Since fruit spreads are generally only consumed in small amounts (1 serving is defined as 1 tablespoon), the amount of fruit spread consumed (and consequently the amount of sugar) will have a bigger physiological impact than how quickly the sugars enter the bloodstream. This brings us back to the 30 calories per serving which all of our fruit spreads have in common. Bottom line? Same amount of sugar, same GI, same GL.
Anthocyanins are naturally occurring and part of the class of Polyphenols (antioxidants) known as Flavonoids. They can be found in many, many berries—especially the red, purple, and blue ones. Researchers are still working out their exact benefits. We bet they’re pretty good, though.
Antioxidants are natural chemical compounds which, as the name suggests, prevent oxidation. Oxidation of cells and tissues in our bodies by “free radicals” is generally regarded to be undesirable, and antioxidants are believed to be able to neutralize these free radicals. Many of the antioxidant compounds present in fruits belong to the Polyphenol group.
Scientists have yet to formally agree on the best way to measure antioxidants. One common test involves measuring the potency of antioxidants in terms of the “oxygen radical absorbance capacity,” or ORAC value. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports ORAC values per 100 grams of food and recommends about 5,000 ORAC units per day. (Most people average around 1,000.) According to the USDA, blueberries have an ORAC rating of 6,552 per 100 grams while strawberries rate 3,577 per 100 grams. One jar of Crofter’s Organic Superfruit Spread contains 16,000 ORAC units; the equivalent of a 1L bottle of red wine. You better grab that spread spoon!
The Spread Tech
Try saying that 10 times fast. High Performance Liquid Chromatography (or HPLC) separates, identifies and quantifies molecules in substances like water, soil, plants, and yes—fruit and fruit spread. After a sample is prepared in liquid form, it is injected with a solvent into a tube packed with tiny beads that’s under immense pressure—14,000 psi to be exact. The same pressure as if a large elephant were standing on one square inch—no joke. When the liquid comes out the other end, the molecules have been separated by size. We can then identify each molecule down to .0003 parts per million (trust us, that’s really itty bitty). What are we looking for? Good question. Using this method, we can test for 415 of the most commonly used herbicides and pesticides. By taking this extra step in verifying that our yummy organic fruits are truly organic and not adulterated, we're ensuring that you get nothing but the best tasting, organic fruit spreads. If by chance our fruit or other ingredients were contaminated with herbicides or pesticides, we would be able to see that with this test, and we wouldn't use them.
Heat reclamation or recovery is the collection and re-use of heat that would otherwise be lost. Think of it like a form of recycling. By capturing the off-heat from various areas and machinery in our facilities, we can then use that energy to heat offices and even truck loading ramps to keep them clear of snow during those frosty Canadian winters. Learn more about each of our systems below.
To keep the 9,000 square feet of freezer we have at –18°C (0°F), heat on the inside of the freezer must be removed. Through a cycle of evaporation and condensation, heat from the freezer coils is recovered and used as free floor heat for the upstairs laboratory, office, and staff rooms. Heat is also fed into the main hot water loop, further alleviating the need for the natural gas heating boilers to operate. The combined heat recovery sources of the natural gas generator and freezers allows the heating boilers to function as a back-up heat source that basically never comes on, other than on the coldest Northern Ontario winter nights…when the bears are sleeping.
Within minutes, the 90°C (195°F) newly-filled jars must be cooled to 40°C (105°F). To accomplish this, enormous amounts of 20°C (68°F) cooling water is sprinkled over the hot jars as they travel through a cooling tunnel. The cool water picks up the heat from the jars which raises the temperature of the cooling water to 35–40°C (95–105°F). To cool more jars, this water needs to be brought back down to 20°C (68°F), which would normally require a high capacity water cooling unit (energy hog). But thanks to ingenius thinking by our engineers and project managers, we created a more sustainable (and cheaper!) option. Multiple large holding tanks, totaling 300,000 L, collect the warmed-up water from the cooling tunnel. From there, the water passes through a closed return system that uses the natural cooling abilities of the earth. Water is circulated through miles of piping in our plant floors and outside deep in the earth where the heat in the water radiates into the cooler ground, in turn cooling the water. During the winter, this keeps our loading ramps and parking lot areas snow and ice-free, and it also helps with keeping the buildings at a comfortable temperature. The closed system continually circulates the water and maintains the required 20°C (68°F) temperature, without the high energy cost of a cooling unit. The bonus is not slipping around outside and staying toasty warm inside.
Making fruit spreads can be a messy endeavor. Things get a little sticky around here, so we need to be diligent in keeping our equipment shiny (and safe). At almost any time during production, you will find someone spraying and washing equipment. This, of course, also requires significant amounts of water—water that ends up on the floor. We thought that disposing this amount of water was incredibly wasteful, so we commissioned General Electric to design one of the first-known micro-scale wastewater treatment plants. In principle, the treatment system works the same as any municipal treatment facility. Water is initially filtered and screened for most physical contaminants like dirt (and in our case, pieces of fruit). But the real magic happens in the membrane bioreactor (sounds cool, right?). Since there is no way to physically filter dissolved sugar from water, we rely on our army of specially selected microorganisms to literally "eat" the sugar. The waste water enters a large vat filled with billions upon billions of good bacteria that consume the sugar, ultimately leaving it free of dissolved contaminants. From there, the water passes through final purification steps, and voila! Back to washing equipment it goes.
Well, a few things. First: we're Canadian. Bears are pretty much our spirit animal. Second: bears love berries almost as much as we do. Third: bears pick the best berries, not unlike Crofter's Organic. Fourth: we both store fruit for the winter. We use jars; bears use them to develop an extra, insulating layer. And last but not least: we find him to be quite charming.
Crofter: Noun. One who rents and tends a small farm. How are we Crofters? Rather than supporting large monocultures managed by corporations, we prefer looking after farmers from around the world who cultivate and tend their small farms. We have long-term relationships with farmers and suppliers in nearly a dozen different countries. Our suppliers know we trust them to deliver their best and that in turn we will honor our commitments and share in the inherent risks of each agricultural season. We estimate that the many tons of berries, cherries, apples, pomegranates, apricots, grapes, oranges and tropical fruits that go into our products each year supports 9,000 acres of land managed with organic practices. Producing organic spreads is how we help to take care of the earth. In addition to tending to the wellness of the planet, we hope to contribute to your well-being. One could say that we have shaken hands with the preserve-eaters of the world to always deliver our best, lip-smacking, fruit-stuffed, affordable spreads produced sustainably and with respect for the land and the lives along the way.