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It's a jam off!!!

A little while ago, I wrote about my love for Gentle Annie’s Berry Garden and Tearooms and of course, their jam. I usually refer to GA’s strawberry jam as my favourite and I faithfully buy more of the stuff every time I am in Lorne. However,  the other day I started thinking about this and realised that I have never really objectively tested my love for GA, and so the idea of the taste test was born.

Since I was a child I have always had a soft spot for jam, I love a good whack of it, slathered on hot toast with plenty of butter. I actually enjoy every type of jam (but not marmalade) although strawberry is my favourite. My dad (the other huge jam fiend in my life) prefers raspberry over strawberry, so he is constantly getting gifts of obscure raspberry jam from me.

I picked up a few boutique-style jams while I was in Lorne – “Cunliffe Waters” (which is actually from the Yarra Valley) and aptly named “Bread & Jam” from the Geelong hinterland. When we were in Red Hill enjoying a lovely lunch at Ten Minutes by Tractor we popped in to Merricks General Store and bought a few wines as well as the General Store’s Jam. I thought these three would be a good taste test against my beloved GA, but later decided I should throw some supermarket jams in the mix, who knows, maybe generic jam is an undiscovered gem? I went to my local Woolworths and picked up IXL, Cottee’s and Woolworths Home Brand strawberry jam to round out the taste test.

The "gourmet" jams

Supermarket jams

Decanting the jams into little bowls, it was interesting to see the visual differences between them. Some were thin (GA), others very chunky with fruit (Cunliffe Waters, Merricks), others oddly jelly like (Cottees, Home Brand) light in colour (Cunliffe Waters, Home Brand) and dark in colour (GA and Merricks):

Jams: back row (l-r) Gentle Annie, Cunliff Waters, Bread & Jam, Merricks General Store. Front row (l-r) Home Brand, Cottee's, IXL

The taste test

We set up the taste test – each jam was on half a piece of toast with butter:

Gentle Annie

First-up, our beloved Gentle Annie ($6, 350g).
Contains strawberries, sugar and lemon juice.

Tasting notes:

  • quite a thin jam;
  • dark coloured;
  • dense with pips;
  • fruity;
  • slight lemon flavour;
  • not as sweet as others tested.

An old favourite: 8/10

Cunliffe Waters

Cunliffe Waters ($10, 290g).
Contains strawberries (50%), sugar, lemon and pectin.

Tasting notes:

  • thick jam with large pieces of visible fruit – whole strawberries;
  • very lightly coloured;
  • dense with pips;
  • chunky;
  • rounder flavour;
  • quite sweet.

Chunky, sweet and delicious: 8/10

Bread and jam

Bread and jam ($9.90, 350g)
Contains strawberries (50%), sugar, water, pectin and citric acid.

Tasting notes:

  • thick jam with visible fruit;
  • mid-range in colour;
  • rounder flavour;
  • citrus flavour;
  • not as sweet as others tested.

My favourite of the day (sorry GA!)

Surprisingly great, big, tasty jam: 9/10

Merricks general store

Merricks General Store ($10, 500g)
Contains strawberries and sugar.

Tasting notes:

  • thin jam with chunks of fruit;
  • dark coloured;
  • dense with fruit;
  • light flavour;
  • sweet;
  • unlike any other jam tested.

This jam divided the taste testers, Mr M thought it was the pick of the bunch, I really liked it, but its quite different to the other jams. Mr M commented that the jam is “like a wine”, a bit complex and different and not everyone would like it. Its an equal first place.

“Tastes home made”: 9/10

Woolworths homebrand

Woolworths Home Brand ($1.55, 500g)
Contains strawberries (45%), sugar, glucose-fructose syrup (ie. wheat – oops!), food acid and vegetable gum

Tasting notes:

  • thick, jelly-like consistency;
  • very lightly coloured;
  • no visible fruit;
  • some visible pips;
  • inoffensive;
  • super sweet;
  • the cheapest jam by an absolute mile

Awful consistency, jam is okay and could be worse, 3.5 /10

Cottee's

Cottee’s ($3.46, 500g)
Contains sugar, strawberries (44%), glucose syrup, gelling agent, food acid, mineral salt.

Tasting notes:

  • freakishly jelly-like consistency;
  • light in colour;
  • still some fruit chunks, although Mr M had a chunk which he said was disgusting;
  • has an odd product claim on the side – 99% fat-free, now jam isn’t fatty but it is damn sugary, and what is the 1% fat?!?
  • so sickly sweet we couldn’t finish it.

The worst of the bunch, 2/10

IXL

IXL ($2.50, 250g)
Sugar, strawberries (40%), gelling agent, food acid

Tasting notes:

  • a few fruit chunks;
  • jelly-like consistency (though not as much as Home Brand or Cottee’s);
  • fairly light in colour;
  • super sweet.

Best supermarket jam, 5.5/10

The verdict

  • Equal first place went to Merricks and Bread & Jam.
  • Cheapest jam of the bunch was Home Brand (.31c per 100g), most expensive was Cunliffe Waters ($3.45 per 100g).
  • Best value (price as well as quality) was our old friend GA, at a cost of $1.71 per 100g, but still 8/10 rating.
  • Taking into account cost, the worst was probably Cottee’s which was fairly cheap but quite disgusting and we left it unfinished, as the picture below shows:

Leftover Cottee's jam...

We will definitely enjoy making our way through the remainder of the “gourmet” jams, which fared very well on the taste test. However, now that I have 7 jars of jam on the go, I would appreciate if anyone has some good jam-utilising recipes!

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4 Responses to “It's a jam off!!!”

  1. Renee says:

    That blog was jam packed with useful information Em… good work!
    x

  2. luke says:

    Brilliant – great review! I hope the tests were conducted with blindfolds? Would love to see more taste tests… Oh, and since when did tins of Jam cost $10? Ive been away too long…

  3. Eleanor says:

    How interesting. I’ve never been the biggest fan of strawberry jam as growing up we always had Cottees or IXL in the house. Maybe this is why…..

    A good Apricot, blueberry or blackberry however and I melt at the knees.

  4. [...] 160g berry jam (we used strawberry, since I had a lot of excess from my jam taste test) [...]

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