* Prices may differ from that shown
Since I've been doing my cooking course I've been eating porridge for breakfast to give me energy and to fight off the hunger pangs until lunchtime. But I have to have something sweet on it as I just don't have the traditional palate for salt on my porridge.
I normally sprinkle a little sugar to sweeten, but my brother didn't have any in his house, so I nipped round to Waitrose, which is luckily just around the corner. Whilst I was browsing the aisles I remembered reading a great review about SuperJam, so I headed straight for the jam aisle.
SuperJam comes in 3 different varieties: Blueberry & Blackcurrant, Cranberry & Raspberry, and Rhubarb & Ginger. I chose the Blueberry & Blackcurrant variety as I like both fruits and I thought it sounded like a good combination.
The ethos behind SuperJam is that it is a 100% pure fruit spread made with no added sugar or sweeteners, instead being sweetened with grape juice. Apart from it being a healthier option, I love the fact that the company is owned by an 18 year old entrepreneur called Fraser Doherty who learned how to make jam from his Gran.
The jams come in glass jars with a nice and simple label. The ingredients list is reassuringly short: concentrated grape juice, blueberries (18%), blackcurrants (18%), gelling agent, fruit pectin and lemon juice.
I tried a little bit of the jam on its own and it tasted incredibly fruity and naturally sweet. So I added about a teaspoon to my porridge and stirred it through. The jammy spoonfuls of porridge I ate were really enjoyable, but the plain porridge wasn't very nice, so I added about a tablespoon more jam. Now each mouthful was jam-packed (excuse the pun) with fruity goodness.
There were lovely chunks of blueberries and blackcurrants, which popped in my mouth and released their juices. I normally struggle to get through a bowl of porridge, but with this jam stirred through it I ate it almost as quickly as Goldilocks after she'd found Baby Bear's breakfast.
You should keep your opened jar of SuperJam in the fridge and use it within 3 weeks of opening. I have been using a generous tablespoon of jam with every bowl of porridge, so I finished the whole jar within 2 weeks. But it is smaller than most jars of jam at only 212g, compared with the usual 340g.
Price-wise it is at the top end of the market at £1.49, which equates to 65.6p per 100g, which is just slightly less than the Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Conserve.
I think it is well worth the money because it is a healthier option and I feel like I am getting some fruit into my diet without any effort at all. My only complaint is that the blackcurrant seeds get stuck in my teeth!
Gluten, nut and animal free.
Available from most supermarkets.
I was cruising the jam and honey aisle at my local Tesco for no particular reason, as I don't normally buy jam. As a diabetic, such fruits are usually forbidden to me due to their high sugar content, but that doesn't stop me from voyeuristically staring at the rows and rows of lovely jars, letting out the occasional longing sigh, with Wilkin & Sons aptly named "Little Scarlet" strawberry jam undeniably the keenest focus of my lingering affection.
So it was with mild surprise that I clocked a new little beauty, sitting high up the shelf, far away from the eye-level displays usually reserved for the more expensive (and profitable) brands. It was a small little number, dressed in an understated, though sophisticated-looking white label and black cap, its plain white frock embellished by a rainbow of alternating lilac and grape coloured bands.
Intrigued, I decided it was worthy of closer inspection, even though I thought it would have little chance of joining the other contents of my shopping basket.
LABELLING & INGREDIENTS
The 212g glass jar (fully recyclable of course) easily fit into the palm of my hand, with the front of the label confidently declaring its credentials as "SuperJam" in a bold black font, with the more subtle "blueberry and blackberry" in lowercase printed underneath.
However, what really sent my heart aflutter was a third line, with the promising words "100% pure fruit spread" in an appealing bold purple. Turning to the back of the label now, I discovered a short explanation of its provenance: "SuperJam, is the creation of teenager Fraser Doherty, made from Super Fruits and sweetened naturally with grape juice. What better reason to have a blob on your porridge every morning?"
The product is gluten, nut and wheat free, made in the U.K., and should be kept in the fridge and used no later than three weeks after opening. There is also a URL link advertising the www.superjam.co.uk web site.
I was optimistic, if a bit sceptical, at the prospect of renewing my relationship with jam, but a thorough read of the ingredients (it didn't take long) put any lingering reservations to bed - concentrated grape juice, blueberries (18%), blackcurrants (18%), fruit pectin (a gelling agent) and lemon juice. Nothing else. Nada. Non. Impressed by its purity and all natural composition, and further encouraged by its respectable price tag (£1.27 at Tesco), I decided to take the plunge.
A BIT ABOUT SUPERJAM
When I got home, I looked up the web site to get some more background and discovered that all of the SuperJam products are made with "super fruits", so-called because of the many healthy properties they possess. For instance, our little review pot contains a healthy dose of blueberry and blackcurrant, which the website informs us are both very high in antioxidants.
Apart from the Blueberry & Blackcurrant reviewed here, Fraser Doherty also makes two other varieties - Rhubarb & Ginger, and Cranberry & Raspberry - but, unfortunately, neither were in evidence at Tesco (although a quick search of Waitrose's Ocado site reveals they stock the Cranberry & Raspberry variety).
Fraser apparently learned how to make jam as a fourteen year old from his seventy year old Gran, who wanted to keep him entertained on a rainy day in Edinburgh. He loved making it so much that he started making small batches, selling to friends and neighbours, and then at church fairs and fetes, until he won a supermarket deal with Waitrose in 2006. Five years on, at the tender age of nineteen, he runs a "jam empire" producing over 500,000 jars a year, with a deal with a major US supermarket chain in the offing.
APPEARANCE & CONSISTENCY
Opening the jar to the satisfying sound of the safety button popping as the vacuum is released, you are greeted with a very dark purple coloured jam whose smooth surface is regularly interrupted with blackcurrant seeds and whole (if slightly shrunken) blueberries.
The aroma is quite fruity and sweet, but is tempered with a hint of acidity that isn't overpowering. I dug into the jar with a teaspoon and was rewarded with firm resistance. To test its thickness and consistency, I stood the teaspoon up in the jar and waited for it to sink in under its own weight. It eventually sunk to the bottom, but not so fast as to suggest the spread would be too runny.
I then took out a slightly more than level teaspoon and watched to see how quickly the spread would overflow. It did, eventually, but the acid test for me was how it would behave on toast. I spread a teaspoon of SuperJam on a slice of toasted Hovis Nimble wholemeal bread and coverage was excellent, with whole blueberries and blackcurrant seeds very much in evidence.
Tipping the toast on its side, I was pleased that there was no run off. This is a jam I can safely eat with my shirt and tie on, and not worry about making a mess. Perfect for toddlers and young kids too, especially given the all natural ingredients although, in retrospect, they'd probably complain about the blackcurrant seeds.
I expected the taste of the jam to be consistent with its smell and I wasn't disappointed. You get a nice earthy taste of berries before the blueberry really blasts through, followed a little later by hints of blackcurrant and grape. The initial sweetness, which is definitely not sickly, is balanced by the acidity of the fruit and a slight sourness.
The taste lingers in the mouth for quite some time, and there is a hint of tannin about it, which is not surprising, as blueberries are loaded with it. Overall, a very pleasant and more-ish taste. Given the sweetness, its hard to believe there is no added sugar, and, on this evidence, you wonder why other brands need to add so much of it.
I am in love with jam again! Not only that, the natural ingredients and no added sugar make this a "sin-free" indulgence which I can enjoy in moderation with no appreciable effect on my blood sugars. The first jar lasted me all of a week and I am now on the hunt for more of it, as well as its stable mates.
The trouble seems to be in finding it, as it has been missing from the shelf on my last two visits to the Tesco I bought it from. I am assured this is due to its popularity, so, if its not there next week, I may have to divert and visit the local Waitrose, as, in my view at least, its worth the detour.
© Hishyeness 2009 - Previously published under the same user name on ciao.co.uk