Monday, August 15, 2011
An Impromptu Taste Testing
Curious about the flavors of my specialty jams, I invited my mother, my sister and her husband, my daughter and her husband, and my husband to taste a selection. Included in the taste test are the lemon thyme herb jelly, from the Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) magazine; the strawberry marsala jam from BHG, the peach preserves in Earl Grey tea from Bon Appetit’, and bing cherry jam from the Blue Ribbon Preserves book.
The jars certainly make an appealing appearance, the light yellow, the dark red, the pinky red, and the brown fillings were examined for texture and 3 out of 4 were judged very good. The herb jelly was firm but tender, the preserves had big chunks of fruit suspended in a semisoft jelly, the strawberry jam was thick and kept its shape, but the cherry jam had the consistency of a jelly with the small pieces of fruit – not acceptable because it was neither jam nor jelly.
Everyone dug in with crackers piled with product, here is the verdict on taste alone.
* The Winner*: Lemon thyme herb jelly was everyone’s favorite by far. Soft lemony taste with touch of herb
Second and third were either the peach in tea preserves or the bing cherry. Comments were that the peach in tea had a good fruit presence which was not noticeably flavored with tea, and the bing cherry lacked the bright flavor of cherries.
Last was the strawberry marsala jam, which drew at least one ‘thumbs down’ and was decidedly not a “breakfast toast topper”.
Here’s what I would do to improve them. The recipe for the peach preserves in Earl Grey tea called for the tea leaves to be distributed throughout . I would not let the tea leaves mix in; while it doesn’t affect the taste, it looks bad.
For the cherry, I would make a cherry marmalade or cherry conserve, because the large dark cherries tasted great when eaten fresh, but lost flavor when cooked. I could try using a different variety of cherry too.
The strawberry marsala jam would be delicious served with goat cheese and a savory cracker.
It’s fun to try unusual recipes.