Ever since I discovered that I could include some "real" jam in my diet without it having an adverse effect on my blood sugars (I am a Type 2 diabetic), I have been scouting the jam aisle at my local supermarket with a more deliberate eye.
I have very particular (and usually expensive) tastes when it comes to jam, and in the absence of a gifted relative with a sideline in preserves, and a peripatetic farmers market that rolls into town at infrequent intervals, I have had to satisfy myself with mass produced and commercially available alternatives.
Tiptree's finest - Wilkin & Sons - do a nice line in preserves, jellies, marmalades and jams, and as I have already demolished my one annual jar of sumptuous Little Scarlet Strawberry (one has to have limits), I decided to try their fruit laden Black Cherry jam.
Wilkin & Sons are a world renowned jam maker and royal warrant holder (they provide their branded products to Her Majesty the Queen) based in Tiptree - a village in Essex located between Chelmsford and Colchester and about an hour from London by road and rail.
This family owned business, founded in 1885, does not need much else in the way of introduction. They have an excellent web site which provides a wealth of information on their operation and products here: http://www.tiptree.com
Wilkin & Sons Tiptree Black Cherry Conserve comes in a 340g jar with a distinctive and understated black and white label. What attracted me to this particular jam was its relatively high fruit content and basic ingredients.
Over fifty percent of the jar is packed with fruit, making for a nice chunky jam, and apart from cherries, sugar, some citric acid to help balance the acidity, and fruit pectin (a gelling agent to help make the jam set), there is nothing else in the jar.
I picked mine up at Tesco for £1.89, which, in my view at least, is good value for the price. The glass jar is fully recyclable. The jam is suitable for vegetarians and is made in a nut free factory, as well as being free of any GMO ingredients.
When you pop off the silver lid, you immediately get the fresh, heady, but slightly acidic aroma of ripened cherries that manages to give off somehow complementary sweet and sour notes at the same time.
It is a deep, reddish purple in colour with a mass of whole black cherries suspended in jelly. The fruit tends to rise to the top, leaving about a inch worth of jelly at the bottom of the jar, so it would benefit from being properly mixed.
The cherries are plump, soft but with a pleasant firmness that yields readily to the bite. The fruit and jelly are nicely balanced, so it doesn't come off too sweet on first taste. However, this conserve is also quite rich and intense, so resist the temptation to slather it all over your toast, as a little bit goes a long way.
As something of a cherry jam fan, in the past, I have also tried Tesco's own (£1.57 with slightly less fruit content at 45%) and Bonne Maman (same price, slightly larger jar at 370g and 50g fruit per 100g) - all of which compare quite favourably and provide some stiff competition.
As if other manufacturers didn't provide enough of a stern examination of this conserve's credentials, Wilkin & Sons themselves also do an excellent Morello Cherry variety (in season).
As such, it all comes down to personal preference, and given its taste, fruit content and quality, its this Black Cherry jam that will be gracing my toast for the foreseeable future.
Fruit content: 52g of fruit per 100g.
Total sugar content: 67g per 100g (this includes added sugar and naturally occurring sugars in the fruit).
Calories: 26 kcal per 100g
Protein & Fat: Trace
Carbohydrate: 67g (all sugar)
© Hishyeness 2009