Tag Archives: taste test

Which strawberry jam ?

strawberry jam taste test - which one do we prefer?

We haven’t made any strawberry jam of late as we haven’t had spare strawberries for such activities! So what to do? Well we suggest buying the best of them as usual. But heavens! look at this: Bonne Maman gives us two strawberry jams to choose from in our local supermarché!

The wild strawberry conserve sounds very inviting but cost more than the standard strawberry conserve. We didn’t know what to do, so we bought both.

These jams are soft set and both are delicious. Equally delicious. We couldn’t actually discern any major flavour differences at all, but strangely the wild one had seeds! Now we’re not especially keen on seeds though we can tolerate them. However when one comes without as many seeds it seemed to us the more obvious choice particularly as it is less expensive.

Whichever one you choose, it will delight.

* Please note that these are own findings, we have not been sponsored by Bonne Maman or any associated companies and this is not a commercial posting in any way at all. (Yes we’ve missed a trick there!) Enjoy the jam.

Tesco prices on Monday 8th August 2016:

Bonne Maman Strawberry And Wild Strawberry 370g £2.69
Bonne Maman Strawberry Conserve 370g £2.29

Olives Taste Test

olives taste test

I went to buy “some olives” the other day. Now you would think this would be a relatively straightforward task, with the choice whittled down from a few broad categories such as “green” or “black” “with pits” or “pitted” and perhaps a couple of stuffed options.

But no – I’ll save you the full rant but there was choice beyond what could be considered reasonable – I’m not advocating the return to the days when, within mine and Brenda’s lifetime, olive oil was procured from the chemist’s (being sold as a means to loosen ear wax). I expect actual olives also were similarly “exotic. However, 192 “versions” available at one well-known supermarket does seem unnecessary. We are, after all, discussing olives.

So, rather than getting bogged down with ensuring I got the “right” olives from the “right bodega” – I went for 2 options whose main distinguishing factor was price. The fact that the Moroccan “cheap” ones were merely moistened with oil (sunflower, at that) where the “deli” ones came swimming in a lake  of extra-virgin olive oil, further widened the already yawning price chasm. In fact nearly a quarter of the net contents of the ‘Olives Et Al’  jar was oil. Turning to the taste, while these things are nearly always subjective, Brenda and I both preferred the Moroccan ones – richer, tangier, saltier, denser. But we always had a soft spot for a Moroccan!

So £1.30 plays £3?  We’ll take the the Moroccan thank you – and for the price of  the ‘Olives Et Al’ we’ll enjoy more like 3 times the amount of olives in the process…



Which blueberries taste the best?

blueberries taste tested for flavour and sweetness

Fanny has had a distant relationship where blueberries are concerned.They disappoint her with their bland flavour and sometimes floury texture. But people go on about them don’t they? Not a week goes by without some blueberry muffin appearing in the food section of a colour magazine somewhere, with some reference to free radicals which have usually been cooked out, but never mind that small fact!

Just for the record, although I eat a lot more fruit than Fanny, I didn’t really take to blueberries that quickly either. I did however have that Damascus moment when I was visiting friends in Boston (USA) a few years ago. On this occasion I was handed a piece of blueberry pie that changed my feelings about blueberries forever. The pie was amazing – and I have yet to beat it.

Fanny mooted a point a couple of weeks back.

“Could they be better frozen, because they would be picked and processed very quickly? Much like peas…”

The question seemed perfectly reasonable, and so I trotted up to the local Tesco which sells a variety of different blueberries. For this test I have sampled their cheapest fresh Atlantic Blue-225g, their fresh “Hand Picked”-200g, and their “freshly frozen”- 350g variants.

The Atantic Blue were the entry level blueberries and accusations about lack of flavour can be levelled here. The hand picked ones were bigger and cost nearly twice as much, though they had 25g less than the entry level Atlantic Blue packet. However there was marginally more pronounced flavour and more evident sweetness but it was hard to be truly impressed with them.

There is a saying that says ‘you get what you pay for’ but it doesn’t apply so smugly here. On this occasion I can tell you that we found the best (by a mile) to be the frozen, for the reasons questioned above. Without a shadow of doubt the frozen bluberries licked their fresh counterparts with much better flavour and sweetness, and I can only assume that the processing so early after picking locks in the flavour and sweetness that the others lose in transit. Blueberry for blueberry they were much better value with 350g for the same price as the Atlantic Blue at 225g. We’ll be buying frozen from now on, knowing it’s a much more satisfying product.

Products purchased May 2015 from Tesco

Atlantic Blue Blueberries 225g £2.00
Hand Picked by Experts Blueberries 200g £3.50
Freshly Frozen Blueberries 350g £2.00

Triple sec taste test

choosing between de kuyper and tesco triple sec

De Kuyper is probably the best known brand for Triple Sec in the UK. That said there are one or two others including the Tesco one featured here.

Tesco’s own is 38% alcohol while the de Kuyper is 40%. Does this make a difference?

We conducted a blind taste testing. Both scored well but one is noticeably more aromatic, with powerful floral orangey notes on the nose.This corresponded with a flavour that was more robust.

Don’t get us wrong – these are both rather delicious drinks. But if we have the choice, the de Kuyper wins and by quite a margin. The choice may therefore be down to cost rather than preference – there is a considerable difference. That is Tesco’s advantage.

De Kuyper Triple Sec Price 50cl £14.00 (Sainsburys)

Tesco Triple Sec 50cl £9.00

Prices correct on 9th March 2015

Cheddar cheese taste test

fanny and brenda's cheddar cheese taste test

So there I was walking elegantly around the supermarché when I hit the dairy section which offered an incredible array of cheddar cheese variants. I wondered where to start. Would the decision be based on price? Would someone grab a packet while I was there and I could ask them why they had chosen it over some other version? Cheddar is one of the the world’s most popular cheeses and it’s therefore no surprise that there should be so many producers, all offering cheese which is as it turns out are very closely priced.

Strangely, when I am shopping no one seems to come too near. Never quite sure why that should be, but on this occasion it was irritating. In order to deal with my question I decided to buy four variants of cheddar cheese  (three from Sainsburys and one from Tesco) and see which one we preferred.

I arrived home, looking frankly spectacular as usual, and emptied the shopping on to the kitchen table, awaking Brenda from a stupor. She raised her head off the table and asked ‘what the hell buggeration noise did I think I was making?’ A little impolite I thought.

I cut a slice from each cheese while Brenda went to the bathroom and when she returned I informed her that she was taking part in a cheddar cheese taste test. She closed her eyes and I popped the first cheese into her mouth, then followed in sequence by the other three.

She then did the same to me, and neither of us knew which was which at the time of trialling the cheese.

This is about as scientific (for want of a better word) that we got – and it should be stated here and now that all these cheddars are really quite good products. The two Sainsbury own brand ones are surprisingly close in both flavour and texture.

There was one winner though and it was a clearcut win – we both preferred it, and it stood out a mile for its fresh acidic flavour and slightly crumbly texture. It was the the Tickler, which is an absolutely delicious cheddar cheese  and is head and shoulders above its tough competition. It is highly recommended.

Products & Prices on Saturday 15th November 2014

Sainsbury’s Welsh Slate Cavern Aged Cheddar, Taste the Difference 200g  £2.50 (Sainsburys)

Tickler Extra Mature Cheddar 350g  £3.50 (Sainsburys)

Sainsbury’s Cave Aged Farmhouse Mature Cheddar, Taste the Difference 200g  £2.50 (Sainsburys)

Pilgrims Choice Vintage White Cheddar 250G
£2.50  (Tesco)


A sizeable price difference – but what is the difference?


It makes a lot of people in this country, particularly men smirk if offered a glass of sherry fearing for their sexuality by association for some reason. It seems to be something that offends British masculinity. It’s absurd but true.

This all stems from the seventies and the era of Abigail’s Party when cheap “British” sherry was all the rage and quite undrinkable. It seems to have informed today’s thinking however, and now if you are seen drinking sherry in some downmarket taverns it is considered amusing. Extraordinary! In London there are fortified wine specialists who are overturning these sad misconceptions. A trip to Gordon’s wine bar in Villiers Street should leave one in no doubt about how fantastic this drink can be. An unfortunate situation as no other fortified wine has such a stigma, and nor should it. However this unfortunate association means that it represents very good value and these are really sumptuous wines that are well worth enjoying.

You see the real thing is altogether too delicious to ignore and if the population wishes to ignore it, then so be it – that is their loss! Last Christmas Fanny bought me the Pedro Ximenez Bodegas Malaga Virgen Reserva de Familia as a present. And the silly troll went and bought herself the cheaper Sainsburys one to slurp back in desperate moments. At least I say “silly troll”…

pedro ximenez sherry taste test photographer simon c bennett

At the time she thought she was buying a cheaper product for quick illicit swigs straight from the bottle when no one was watching only to find it wasn’t cheaper in quality. Not at all. In fact these two sherries are almost inseparable. They both have a sweet full bodied and delicious flavour redolent of raisins and prunes. And although they are at the sweeter end of the spectrum they are not not cloying. Three out of the four testers in the blind taste test could not discern any difference – and the one that did acknowledged it was subtle. (He did correctly guess which sherry was which).These would both make superb alternatives to any of the established after dinner drinks like port or madeira.

pedro ximenez sherry taste test photo by simon bennett

So, which IS better?
Answer? Neither. They are both equally good but there is a considerable price differential and because any difference is subtle we would snap up the Sainsbury version at £8.00 for a 50cl bottle. In fact you could almost buy two with the saving.

Prices as at 30th August 2014

Pedro Ximenez
Bodegas Malaga Virgen Reserva de Familia 50cl

Ultracomida £14.95
Village Wines£13.98
Wines Of Interest £14.25

Pedro Ximenez 50cl
Aged 12 years

Sainsburys £8.00

Elderflower cordial taste test

elderflower cordial taste test
Ruby the cat showed a great deal of interest in the taste test as you can see

I am a fairly recent convert to elderflower cordial. I like its subtle and delicious fragrance and evidently quite a few other people do as a variety of brands have appeared in recent times. Fanny was sitting here this morning with a particularly glum face as yet another of her Brazilian masseurs had denied her advances and taken flight.

Bright as a button I said it was time for a taste test. She showed relatively little emotion as she stared listlessly through the French windows at Ruby the cat lying contendedly on the garden table.

I measured out two glasses of the competing brands – Belvoir (pronounced Beaver) and Blossom Cottage. I added identical levels of water to each identical measure and handed them to Fanny and asked which she preferred.

One of therm has a more colourless liquid and is milder, the other having a more pronounced colour and sweetness.

And one won the taste test by a considerable margin.

The winner was Blossom Cottage which was much much preferred for its milder subtlety and refreshing nature. The Belvoir is good but found sweet by comparison. The Belvoir is also more expensive so it’s a win win situation if you choose the one that we preferred here.

Breakdown of prices at the major supermarkets on 18th August 2014


Belvoir Elderfower Cordial £3.15

Blossom Cottage £1.76 until 19/8/14, thereafter £2.20 (Special offer)


Belvoir Elderfower Cordial £3.15

Blossom Cottage £2.00


Belvoir Elderfower Cordial £3.00

Blossom Cottage £2.15

Strawberry taste test

strawberry taste test
The strawberry is the single biggest seller in the supermarkets today. When Fanny was growing up they were available for about three weeks in the year – now thanks to modern science they are available most if not all the year round. Of course at this time of the year they are in plentiful supply and you’d expect them to be top notch. After all it’s summer. However faced with the choice of two different types while browsing around Sainsbury’s I decided to buy both. I like deep red strawberries like ‘Premier’, but they looked large and my experience of large strawberries ( I do mean the giant ones) is that they aren’t terrific in flavour or texture. So I also bought the ‘Murano’ strawberry to compare. This is paler and less obviously attractive to me – but it also seems to be more moderately sized and that is a big plus point in my experience.

So I trudge home, and Fanny eyes up the strawberries so we cut up a couple of examples from both punnets and tried them.

What we found:

The Premier was fibrous and more woody – which I expected considering its larger size. It was a very attractive colour however.

The Murano was paler, but had a pleasanter texture and was nicer to eat. It also had a remarkably better flavour.

So there you have it- big and red does not mean bigger and better. If you’re out buying strawbs from Sainsburys today then get the Murano!