Friday, 24 June 2011

Slow Food Worcestershire Strawberry jam testing

The Worcestershire branch of Slow Food ran a strawberry tasting session last night, June 24rd 2011.  We had intended to do a comparative tasting of different varieties of fresh strawberries, but the early hot weather meant there were very few strawberries left in the local farms.  We spent the evening comparing strawberry jams - people were encouraged to bring their own jam and I expected lots to try.  However, only three people brought jam, so the blind tasting ran with these three and twelve bought jams.

To make things easier we just collected joint scores from five groups, rather than trying to add up responses from thirty people on fifteen jams by three scores...taste, texture and colour.

Tested jams

  1. Hartley's No-Bits
  2. Tiptree Strawberry Little Scarlett
  3. Tesco Value Strawberry jam
  4. Bonne Maman Strawberry & Wild Strawberry jam
  5. Streamline Strawberry Jam
  6. Hartley's Best Strawberry jam
  7. Tesco Finest Strawberry Conserve
  8. Mrs Darlington's Extra Jam Strawberry Jam ( bought at Clive's Fruit Farm)
  9. Tiptrees Strawberry
  10. Bonne Maman Strawberry Conserve
  11. Duerr's Strawberry Jam
  12. Tesco Strawberry jam
  13. Strawberry Jam (home-made)
  14. Strawberry jam with a touch of rhubarb (home-made)
  15. Strawberry jam ( home-made)

Each group were given numbered pots of jam so they didn't know what each jam was.  They were given fragolinis - strawberry puree and Prosecco, buckwheat crepes and crepes made with my usual flour mix (urid lentil 40%, tapioca 40&, cornmeal 20%).

Each table chose a different favourite.

  • 13 home-made strawberry jam
  • 10 Bonne Maman Strawberry Conserve
  • 15 strawberry jam  home-made
  • 6 Hartley's Best Strawberry jam
  • 12 Tesco Strawberry jam

The least favorite for each group was

  • Tesco Value Strawberry jam
  • Tesco Value Strawberry jam
  • 11 Duerr's Strawberry jam
  • 3 Tesco Strawberry jam
  • Hartley's No-Bits

We added up the scores for the home-made jams so as to be able to award a prize.  Number fifteen won.  This was made by someone who hadn't attended this evening.  His wife had brought it, scored it poorly in the blind testing, and apparently kept telling her husband he was making it wrong.  Unfortunately she took home the remains of the jar so I can't give a personal report on the jam - I was too busy last night to try the jams myself.

I tried the three bought jams which scored highest:
Tesco jam - a good fresh strawberry smell, deep colour, fruity feel but an odd lingering aftertaste
Harlety Best - a rich dark colour, some strawberry fruit texture in a well gelled but not sticky matrix.  Quite a pleasant jam, but if I had made it I would have thought I had overcooked the fruit.
Bonne Maman Strawberry Conserve - a softer set with some seeping.  Less scented than the Tesco one.  A bright and mellow jam.

It was an amusing evening, and illustrates the importance of variety and not being seduced by packaging. We had a dozen commercial jams and only three home made one, yet there were two home made jams in the top five. On the other hand it is worth remembering that with a room full of people who care about food there was a surprising amount of disagreement about what was best.


  1. Thank you Lois & Rob for a wonderful Slow Food evening.

    We scored each jam for 3 categories - taste, texture and colour. You wrote about the wife of one of the home-made jams. I spoke to the wife of another of the home-made jams who told me that he had scored his wif's jam as equal bottom. Perhaps he was suffering from jam fatigue after jasting 15 different jams!

    Thanks again to you both.

  2. What a fun evening this would have been.


I reserve the right to edit or not publish comments