This summer’s crop of strawberries was plentiful and flavourful, and lucky are those who froze some to make jam. For those who had little time or inclination, there are plenty of jams available.
While we looked at some made outside Ireland, we looked closer at Irish producers — all the more important with Brexit looming. We spotted at least one Irish producer which lists produce from the EU which could easily be from outside Ireland. However, there are plenty which met our criteria.
We eliminated those with more than four ingredients. We also avoided those with glucose-fructose syrup as well as sugar, looking for at least 50% fruit and no more than 50% simple sugars, with just lemon juice and pectin added. These are the ingredients we would use if making jam at home.
There are many ways to enjoy strawberry jam. Make strawberry ice-cream by adding a few dessertspoons of jam to ice-cream already made or bought. Add it carefully in streams for ripple, or mix through and re-freeze before it defrosts too much.
Homemade (or bought) shortbread biscuits dusted with icing sugar (with a hint of vanilla for extra impact), can deliver your unique accompaniment to a cup of tea.
The obvious addition to freshly baked scones and sponges (it’s best to avoid the runny types) are traditional for good reason — the combination is delicious.
Folláin Nothing but Fruit 340g €2.89
A decent 60% strawberries, unsweetened grape juice and fruit pectin lives up to its subtitle, ‘With no added sugar’. Sugars are a relatively low 38% and it shows in the taste which is comfortingly warm and not oversweet.
Fruit is flavoursome and texture is like a bulky purée and none the worse for that. Tasters liked it. Made in Co Cork, widely available.
Yummie Foods 320g €4
The four ingredients here are 50% each fruit and sugar, plus pectin and lemon juice. The texture is smooth, slightly loose, which might fall off bread, but good drizzled over a sponge cake or ice-cream. No nutritional values on label. Made in Co Cork and available in Pana breadshop, Merchant’s Quay, Cork. Pricey.
Dunnes Stores Simply Better Irish Strawberry Preserve 300g €2.89
Irish apples help with the set here and adds to the total fruit content of 60% and natural sugars which with added sugar comes to relatively low sugars at 40%. Nice chunks of strawberries in a loose texture. We also like the Dunnes Reduced Sugar Strawberry preserve (€2.50/ 320g) with just 32% sugars in a more set/ jelly-like style.
G’s Gourmet Preserves 350g €3.20
Strawberries at 55% is a little higher than some others samples. Other ingredients are sugar, lemon juice and pectin amounting to reasonable sugars at 47%. A rich strawberry flavour has no big pieces and a natural, well-set texture. A good all rounder.
Aldi Gráinne’s Strawberry Conserve 350g €1.25
At 58%, sugars are higher than many we tasted, but fruit, sugar and pectin make a welcome short list of ingredients. Nice fruit and an even textured proper set. Good price. Made in Ireland.
Big Red Kitchen 330g €4.90
Good quality 50% fruit here with a smooth, purée-like texture. Sugars total at 63% are high. Quite runny. Good to use as a sauce over ice-cream. Made in Co Meath. Expensive.
West Cork Strawberry Jam 370g €3.50
Fruit and sugar each at 50% with pectin make an evenly textured, well-set jam that is sweet and natural. Made in Coolea, West Cork, we bought at Roughty Foodie, English Market where there is also a small jar of expensive, but tasty, runny strawberry and champagne jam made by Pure Cork (€4).
Lidl Kilderg Strawberry Preserve 350g €1. 25
Total sugars here are 52.3%, (though sugar content is listed as 60%) and a good, shortlist has 55% strawberries, sugar and pectin to make a smooth, natural, pulpy, well-set jam. A little sweet, but good to layer in a simple cream and jam Victoria sponge. Good value.