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Den Gamle Fabrik (Danish for 'The Old Factory'), based in Taastrup, Denmark, know a thing or two about jam-making: they have been producing jams and other fruit spreads since 1834 and have a 50% market share in Denmark. Their jams are still made according to traditional methods - rather than being boiled, the fruit is heated to a maximum of 85 degrees centigrade in an open pan. As a result of this gentle manufacturing process, the finished product still contains whole fruits, which in turn retain their natural colour and aroma.
The company's jams come in a wide range of flavours, including apricot, mandarin, rhubarb, raspberry, plum, blackcurrant and sour cherry, each of which has its own vibrant, distinctive colour. I'm going to review the most classic jam flavour and my all-time favourite: strawberry.
The jams come in rather plain, squat, 400g jars with simple metal lids. The sparse, white, oval label on the front of the jar shows the flavour and the Den Gamle Fabrik logo. The colour of the jam is so pretty that the jar doesn't need any further embellishment - the product speaks for itself.
To me, the lack of fancy or gimmicky packaging underlines the company's ethos: quality fruit spreads, made the old-fashioned way. From the second the metal lid is popped off, I can smell the jam's intensely fruity aroma.
The consistency is a little more fluid than I would have expeceted from a jam containing so much whole fruit, but this makes it easiy spreadable, if a little messy. Being so runny, it doesn't require any butter or margarine if you're eating it on bread or toast, and a little goes a long way. At the top of the jar the jam is clear, free of pips and fairly liquid, with an almost jewel-like gloss to it. Digging down deeper into the jar with a spoon yields large, whole strawberries - quite a rarity with most jams. Though they are obviously very soft, they don't disintegrate when spread on bread unless you really squash them with the back of the knife. For this reason the jam is a great pancake or cake filling or complement to natural yoghurt, as it adds a little texture to the dish as well as sweetness.
The flavour is strong but not overly sweet. It doesn't taste too sugary or artificial like some jams do; the whole strawberries are actually slightly tart, which offsets the sweetness. Though it's certainly moreish, I don't think I could eat too much in one go (which is probably just as well!) or it would be too sickly. It also makes me quite thirsty, so it's good to have a cup of tea at hand when eating this jam spread on toast.
All in all, this is the only jam I've bought in a supermarket that comes close to the taste of homemade jam (and, in my opinion, betters the texture). It's absolutely delicious, versatile and bound to be fairly good for you with such a high fruit content. In a nutshell: the king of jams!
I stock up on these jams from German supermarkets when I'm there, and usually pay around 2.15 euro for a 400g jar (currently £1.88). In Britain it can also be purchased online at the Danish Food Shop, where a 900g plastic tub costs £2.60, which looks like a fantastic bargain. The delivery charge depends on how much you order and the site accepts PayPal and major credit cards. So far I've not found any other stockists that deliver to the UK.
The strawberry jam contains 42% sugar, water, 40% strawberries, pectin, citric and E202 (preservative). This gives an overall sugar content of 49%.
The Danish Food Shop: www.danishfood.net
Den Gamle Fabrik (German-language site only): www.dengamlefabrik.de