Product Type: Bird's Food
Newest Review: ... scratch rather then the instant forms where you add just boiling water. To make this up you pour the contents powder into a measuring ... more
Instant Custard That Doesn't Quite Cut The Mustard
Bird's Instant Custard
Member Name: Hishyeness
Bird's Instant Custard
Advantages: Quick and convenient. Good for a quick custard fix
Disadvantages: Relatively bland. Miniscule writing on jar
Last week I was dreaming of custard - big dollops of thick, creamy yellow custard with a banana sliced on top. Try as I might, I could not get custard off my mind. All of a sudden it was everywhere, in the colour of our office walls, in my colleague's "Rhubarb and Custard" mobile ring tone, and in an advert in my GP's waiting room, promoting the stuff.
Despite my vigorous attempts not to succumb to temptation, I finally gave in. I needed an instant hit to calm my cravings, so along with my normal shopping, I popped a jar of Bird's Instant Custard - the light-blue labelled low fat variety (in a nominal nod to my diet) - into my basket, and hurried home to get a fix.
Bird's Instant comes in a fetching square jar with a red lid that pops off easily, revealing a foil seal. This insignificant barrier was no match for my determination to get to the powder it was guarding, and I peeled it off with extreme prejudice. It smelled sweet and well, custardy, for want of a better description. The 275g jar, which was £2.08 at my local Tesco, is enough to make ten single servings. Other quantities (notably 75g sachets at 37p) are also available.
ON YOUR MARKS!
Having espied the tag-line "In the time it takes to boil the kettle" on the side, I deftly flicked on the dedicated water-boiling device, and set about testing this bold claim. My first challenge was to read the instructions. Let me be clear here. I have two university degrees and am perfectly capable of reading and understanding the English language.
The problem was the miniscule writing, which was about half the size of the text you are reading now. The second obstacle was in assembling the tools for the job (measuring jug, desert spoon and fork) before the kettle boiled, but thankfully, the dishwasher had run its cycle and all the necessary implements were to hand.
The pressure mounted as the kettle started to simmer and bubble in an ascending crescendo of noise. Feeling especially greedy, I decided to make up a double portion using the handy table on the jar and spooned four generously heaped desert spoons of the cream-coloured powder into the measuring jug. The kettle hadn't boiled yet, so I was extremely pleased with myself and impressed by Bird's jar-side boast.
Moments later, the kettle emitted a satisfying click and I poured the boiling water into the jug as directed, stirring furiously with a fork, and watching as the custard started to thicken and assume that glorious, shiny yellow colour.
It was in this moment of relative calm that I realised - with the ultra-pedantic mind that afflicts most lawyers - that the claim on the jar could not possibly be true. You can't make the custard without adding the boiled water from the kettle, so the process does not end when the kettle goes "click". You can only finish AFTER the kettle has boiled. Oh dear. How disappointing.
PROOF OF THE PUDDING
They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I emptied the contents of the now made-up custard into a bowl and savoured its rich and satisfying aroma while waiting for it to cool. After a couple of minutes, with my patience thoroughly exhausted and a week's worth of unbearable custard cravings reaching breaking-point, I took a generous, gloopy dollop and manoeuvred into my gaping pie hole.
It was thick, smooth, very creamy and with lovely "mouth feel". It didn't seem to suffer from the reduction in fat, and was actually quite nice - it tasted pretty much like custard should and was not overly sickly or sweet. Not bad, quite more-ish, but not great. In fact, on second and third opinion, I decided it was actually quite bland, perhaps looking much better than it tasted. It was certainly less spectacular and satisfying than I hoped for.
The solution turned out to be the addition of other things. It serves as a useful base ingredient, and I added bananas and a tea spoon full of cacao to it to sex it up a bit. It worked a treat.
INGREDIENTS & NUTRITION
The made-up serving of 175g will contain around 100 calories, 20g of carbohydrates (13g of which is sugar) and around 2g of saturated fat (the bad kind, but there's not much of it). Main ingredients are sugar, starch, whey powder, vegetable oil and various milk products. It is therefore not for those who are lactose intolerant, but is suitable for vegetarians.
It's not bad as a convenient stop-gap or quick fix, or as a base for other things, but it doesn't really stand on its own as a quality custard. Of course, you can't beat home-made, but it would be unfair to hold it up to such a lofty benchmark. In short, smells great, tastes so-so, and requires a magnifying glass to read the on-jar instructions. Consider it damned with faint praise.
© Hishyeness 2009
Summary: Fairly mediocre convenience food that smells and looks better than it tastes.