Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Russell Stover Pectin Jelly Beans

Russell Stover Pectin BeansWhen thinking of a premium bean my mind usually goes to coffee or chocolate or perhaps if I’m particularly hungry, heirloom beans like Anasazi. Very low on that list are Pectin Jelly Beans.

Jelly Beans are a rather simple sounding candy but are rather complex to make. They start with a boiled sugar, syrup and gelling agent mixture. Historically pectin was the gelling agent of choice. Pectin is a soluble fiber originally made from apple pomace (the stuff left over after pressing apples for juice) and later citrus rinds, it was easily available and previously regarded as a waste product.

Later, I’m not sure when as I’m not really a jelly bean historian, corn starch became more common for jelly beans (probably because corn products are so ridiculously cheap). But corn starch, as the name implies, is a starch, so it’s a carbohydrate. While corn starch may have taken over the jelly bean, at least it left our jellies & jams alone.

There are a lot of fans of pectin beans, though. They’re adamant that pectin makes the best kind of jelly bean. Smoother, milder and soothing. But pectin beans are becoming rather hard to find. I know of three brands at the moment: Jelly Belly (a special assortment, not their regular Jelly Belly), Brach’s (Peacock Eggs) and Russell Stover. I’ve been scouring the aisles of the drug stores & grocery chains and found this Russell Stover Pectin Jelly Bean mix.

They were a bit on the pricey side, on sale for $2.50 for a 12 ounce bag. As far as I could tell when purchasing them, they’re a fruit assortment. The package didn’t say what the flavors were. It also said “Made for Russell Stover” on the package, so they may be made by Jelly Belly or Brach’s for all I know. (But they’re not Kosher.)

Russell Stover Pectin Beans

They are big, beautiful, shiny beans. They’re about three quarters of an inch long (a Jelly Belly is about a half an inch), almost rod shaped.

I found nine flavors in the package:

  • Purple = Grape - when looking at the bag at first I thought these were black (licorice). Though I’m generally a fan of fake grape flavored candies, this came off as somewhere between the flavor of concord grape jelly and bitter ball point pen ink.
  • Pink = Strawberry - this was a lovely, if sometimes inconsistent, shade of translucent pink. The strawberry is all sweetness with a little pop of tart in the middle. The berry flavor is fragrant and floral but well rounded. It’s not sticky sweet, just, well, pleasant and reassuring.
  • Clear = Pineapple - I gravitated towards these immediately. They had a nice floral flavor but also a less appealing “boiled fruit” flavor to them that didn’t feel as fresh as the other flavors.
  • Red = Cherry - this cherry flavor is quite strong, not too sweet but vivid with black cherry and cough syrup notes. I didn’t get much of a bitter aftertaste from the colorings. 
  • Orange = Orange - only the lightest hint of orange zest in here. A mild tangy finish. Kind of like weak Tang.
  • Yellow = Lemon - this was a very mild bean, a vague note of lemon oil here and no tart twist at the end. I really thought these were unflavored.
  • Green = Lime - these are very, very green. The lime flavor is all sweetness. The lime peel notes are pretty limited - notes of floor cleaner and furniture polish.
  • My assortment seemed to be very heavy on the red and green.

    Overall, I appreciated the mild flavor, consistent & smooth texture and ability to keep eating them without feeling full or regretful. The fruit flavor array wasn’t the best match for my sensibilities though. The only flavors I really liked were the orange and strawberry, though since they were so bland I found that I could eat any of them. I understand the appeal of these over a corn starch bean, which seem sickly sweet and sticky by comparison.

    I really need to find these in the traditional spice flavors (besides the Hot Tamales Spice Beans I tried last year). Anyone have any suggestions of brands?

    Related Candies

    1. Loukoumi Artisan Confections
    2. Wonka Nerds Jelly Beans
    3. Blueberry Hill Spice Jelly Beans
    4. SweeTart Jelly Beans
    5. Starburst and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
    6. Jelly Belly - Full Line
    Name: Pectin Jelly Beans
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Russell Stover
    Place Purchased: Long's (Laguna Woods)
    Price: $2.50 (on sale!)
    Size: 12 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 99
    Categories: Jelly, United States, Russell Stover, Easter

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:26 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

    1. “notes of floor cleaner and furniture polish”

      This is why I love your reviews.  You use phrases that nobody else would but that perfectly describe the items.

      Comment by Cat Skyfire on 3/10/09 at 11:51 am #
    2. Hi Cybele!
      I’m one of your regulars, and always excited to see your new product reviews. They entice me to go indulge my sweet tooth (probably more often than I should! smile ), and I always remember your recommendations when I’m gazing down the candy aisle!
      I just wanted to let you know about a minor error—I think you mean you found SEVEN flavors…?

      Comment by Sara on 3/10/09 at 2:43 pm #
    3. Well I love jelly beans, but only the little pectin ones.  I am not a fan of Jelly Belly, so I am glad to know about these.  I usually buy Just Born jelly beans but they are only around at Easter, so it’s a treat to find them again in stores each year.  They come in spice(but I have never tried those) and they come in a bag of only licorice ones.

      Comment by candyann on 3/11/09 at 3:05 am #
    4. Russel Stover owns Jelly Belly, so they may be made in the same factory, even if they are not identical.

      Comment by Dave on 3/11/09 at 11:43 am #
    5. Tricia's avatar

      I don’t now, Cat Skyfire, I think “somewhere between the flavor of concord grape jelly and bitter ball point pen ink.” might be a better line than “notes of floor cleaner and furniture polish”. Because really, I think any person who ever chewed on a pen as a kid knows what pen ink tastes like, but floor cleaner? :^) :^) :^)

      Comment by Tricia on 3/12/09 at 2:47 am #
    6. Does Brach’s still make spice jelly beans? I always liked them.

      Comment by jwoolman on 3/12/09 at 10:49 am #
    7. Sera's avatar

      CVS had some branded spice beans I liked very much that I think you’re already aware of. Mayfair is to be avoided. I swear by the Brach’s variety. smile

      Comment by Sera on 3/12/09 at 3:02 pm #
    8. I can’t find Russell Stover pectin jelly beans anywhere this year!  I found this blog, but not the beans.  For decades RS jelly beans have been a part of my Easter, a family favorite since I was a kid, and now they’re no where to be found.  Egad!  Any suggestions?  I’m in Tucson by the way.

      Comment by Kirsten on 4/01/09 at 11:27 pm #
    9. I came on here hoping to find RS Pectin eggs. I even went on the russell stover web site and they are sold out. They are carried by walmart and walgreens also. No luck there either.  Does any one know where I can find them this year?

      Comment by Libby on 4/02/09 at 1:38 pm #
    10. My mom said that her CVS carries them, but I don’t know if it is just certain stores.  These are my favorite jeely beans (I obvioulsy don’t have as discriminating a taste as this blogger) and wait all year to get them in my basket smile
      Oh yeah, Wegman’s uses their own label on pectin jelly beans that are a good alternative if you can’t find RS . . .

      Comment by Kim on 4/06/09 at 7:42 am #
    11. Thanks, Kim!
      I found Jelly Belly pectin beans ($5!) packaged similarly to the Russell Stover version at a gourmet market, and since Dave says JB & RS are relatively the same company…I’m going to try them!

      Comment by Kirsten on 4/06/09 at 8:35 am #
    12. These Russell stove jelly beans don’t taste the same as they once did.  They used to have little speckles in them…that is gone too…I have a feeling they have changed the process somehow.  I’ve been buying these for as many years as I can remember..it started from my local hallmark store.  But with how they taste now, I might as well buy generic ones.  Anyone else noticed a difference?

      Comment by cindy robinson on 4/08/09 at 10:11 am #
    13. I love Russell Stovers jelly beans.  I don’t think the white ones are pineapple though.  Someone suggested it is a sugar flavor which seems closer.  Sarris has good jelly beans too (they are all fruit flavors)  http://www.sarriscandies.com  They are a pretty regional company based out of Canonsburg, PA (near Pittsburgh)

      Comment by MM on 3/10/10 at 12:35 pm #
    14. Ahh, wrong about Jelly Belly being owned by Russell Stover, whose brands include Whitman Chocolates.

      Comment by Trinket on 4/12/11 at 12:46 pm #
    15. These are unremarkable pectin jelly beans. Much better are pectin-spice jelly beans. They have clear spice flavors - cinnamon, clove, spearmint, peppermint, wintergreen, and they have that soft chewy texture unique to pectin beans (not crusty and gooey like “regular” beans). They look different, too. They are pastel colored and translucent.

      Finding them, however, is tough. My long time source is my home-town candy store: Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord, NH. They have mail order, but shipping is $$$$$. I see something similar is offered at Wegman’s grocery stories, a mid-Atlantic chain of grocery stores. I see something similar online at the Vermont Country Store site as well.

      Online searching also turns up a Just Born pectin spice jelly bean, but they don’t look the same in the pictures.

      I tried the Russell Stover pectin beans (from CVS), but I was greatly disappointed.

      Comment by Bill Brown on 4/06/12 at 9:32 am #
    16. I agree, Cindy, Russell Stover pectin jelly beans aren’t the same as they once were.  They taste and look different.
      I’ll look for those pectin spice beans recommended by Bill.
      Happy Easter hunting!

      Comment by Kirsten on 4/06/12 at 11:34 am #
    17. I have a Russel Stover Pectin Jellybean in my mouth right now. They are OK, but not incredible.
      I was suprised to learn from the label that pectin (and other listed minor ingredients) each comprise less than 2% of the total weight.  Yet they were sold at a premium price, being “Pectin” jellybeans.
      I think this is deceptive, and that in traditional pectin beans the pectin was a major ingredient.

      Comment by Wolf on 4/11/13 at 10:00 pm #
    18. Sarris candy made in Pittsburgh area of PA.are the best jellybeans, for my own tastes.  They are mild, really pretty pastel colors(dark purple, they are expensive but worth it, they are very in-the-style-of-my-youth jellybeans.  Theuy are made in fruit, spice and licorice.  Betsy Ann also makes really good and expensive jellybeans.  Russel Stovers are not the same as they use to be, the Sarris are like what I remember Stovers to be. cut and paste this link.  I think you still have time too order https://www.sarriscandies.com/

      Comment by Kevin on 4/15/14 at 10:58 am #
    19. I was disappointed this year. It seems Russell Stover Pectins are mostly thick sugar coated. Rather than the delightful thin coating over the yummy pectin, this year’s beans looked as if the sugary outer coating outweighed the pectin. it looked about 1/8 ” thick…....yuk

      Comment by jan h on 4/28/15 at 4:21 pm #
    20. I agree.  I still have more than half an uneaten bag of Russell Stover pectin jelly beans from Easter this year.  They seem to be getting worse and worse.

      Comment by Kirsten on 4/30/15 at 12:09 am #
    21. We found a terrific value at our local supermarket, Ingles, in Brach’s Wunder Beans. Thes are very close in texture And flavor as Jelly Bellies, but cost about a third as much.

      Comment by Joe Perrone Jr on 7/10/15 at 4:13 pm #
    22. Where can I find gourmet pectin jellies beans, In Daytonabeach fla?

      Comment by reba on 4/12/17 at 9:34 pm #
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