* Prices may differ from that shown
Changing my brand of jam again back to Bonne Maman this time trying their strawberry conserve. Now I do like a good tasting jam especially on a Sunday morning and for me there is nothing worse than a jam that is either too thin or is made of virtually nothing but sugar. Maybe even worse one of those 'diabetic' ones which are packed with artificial sweetener which taste like a chemistry experiment gone wrong.
The reason I like this brand is that there are no artificial ingredients at all. I never see the point in these in jam. After all when making your own (if anyone does) do you really add things like sodium benzoate to it? No no one would so why do some companies who produce jam add this kind of chemical rubbish?
Whilst the jar states this should be stored in the fridge I never have. The sugar content is high enough to preserve the jam. The reason why jam goes mouldy fairly quickly after opening is because bits of toast etc get into the jar from the knives being used and it is this which goes mouldy. To avoid this take the jam out of the jar with a clean spoon then spread it on the toast to avoid the crumbs getting into the jar.
It just happens that strawberry jam is one of my favourite ones and I used to help my gran to make the family's jam after we had gone to one of those pick your own places when I was nowt but a lad. Whilst this is not quite as good as her home made was it does come close.
Anyway the jam isn't the cheapest on the market priced at around the £2.00 mark for a 370g However, it is, like most food products VAT exempt so it isn't all bad. At the moment these are on offer at Tesco for 2 jars for £3.00 hence I bought two of them.
On opening the jar the jam is a nice mid shade red colour and does not appear to be runny nor so thick it is impossible to spread. Chunks of strawberries are visible which is always a sign of a good well made jam. The smell is quite sweet but there are underlying notes of strawberry with a slight floral note as well along with a very slight hint of lemon. The smell is probably explained by the high fruit content being at 50g of fruit per 100g of finished product. This is not this highest I have seen but still good. The sugar level of 60g per 100g is quite high but you have to remember that some of this will be from the natural sugars in the fruit so it isn't as bad as it first sounds.
The taste is actually quite mild and delicate in the strawberry department but thankfully it is not overly sweet. There are very few seeds in this jam which is good as I hate it when small seeds get stuck in your teeth. The fruit taste lingers well in the mouth and you don't need a lot of it to be able to taste it. The jam is quite soft in the set department but it is set and won't run and drip off your toast too easily. The occasional chunk of strawberry is good as this gives a slightly more intense hit of the strawberry flavour as well as a textural contrast. After eating it it does not leave a sugary coating on your teeth which I find some cheaper jams can do.
As well as using this on toast and scones I have also used this when making jam doughnut muffins but I think that it is possibly too good to use for things like jam tarts where the extra uncovered cooking in the oven can spoil the taste of the jam.
So why only 4 stars well I would give it 4.5 stars but halves can't be given. The half star I deduct is because I feel the strawberry contene could be slightly higher.
As I have already written a review of the excellent Bonne Maman Apricot Conserve, I will try not to repeat myself too much as I wax lyrical about the equally excellent Bonne Maman Strawberry Conserve.
I'm no culinary expert but a conserve is probably best described as posh jam and is, in fact, cooked fruit preserved in sugar with a dash of citric acid to make it jell.
And that, in a nutshell, is a list of the ingredients, fruit, sugar and citric acid. The quantities of fruit to sugar are roughly 50/50 in that there is 50 grams of fruit, in this case strawberries, to every 100 grams of conserve though, perhaps of more concern is the fact that there is 60 grams of sugar to every 100 grams of conserve. But it does make it taste delicious even if it may not be so good for the teeth.
The jar is designed to look like a home made preserve in that the label looks handwritten and the top is in red and white gingham and is attractive enough to be put directly onto the table rather than into a jampot.
This is not a cheap product. I buy mine from Sainsburys where it costs £1.89 currently and you get less bang for your buck than if you bought common or garden jam. There is 370 grams of conserve in a jar, as opposed to 450 grams in the average jar of jam. But the quality of this conserve is, to my mind, worth the extra money.
The conserve itself is sweet without being ultra-sickly and is succulent with loads of whole fruits throughout. It's hard to take a spoonful of conserve without hooking at least one fruit! The consistency is also different to jam in that it lacks that sticky quality that jam always seems to have.
This conserve is also pretty versatile. Apart from the usual spread it on toast, bread or scones, it makes a great filling for a sponge cake or for jam tarts. I've also spread it on pancakes before now to make a lovely sweet pudding.
I'm all for buying British where the British product is best but in this case, I always buy French as I've yet to come across another conserve to beat this one.
Being a conserve without preservatives, this needs to be kept refrigerated once opened and eaten within a shorter period than a jar of jam. I've found it lasts a good three weeks, if not longer, in the fridge. Of course, if you have a family of jam or strawberry lovers, it won't even last that long anyway.