POPSUGAR Celebrity

What I Learned Judging Preserves For the Good Food Awards

Jan 18 2013 - 5:45pm

We're eagerly anticipating the announcement of the winners at tonight's Good Food Awards [1] (and to try all the exceptional winning products). In the meantime, here's an inside look at the judging process, as well as a few jam tasting tips.

I hold onto the belief that sugar makes me sweet, and have long held a soft spot in my heart for jams, jellies, and fruit preserves. So, when I was invited to help judge the preserves category for this year's Good Food Awards, I signed up with no reservations.

As one of 28 judges for the preserves category [2], I was assigned to the western US states, and along with three other judges blind tasted more than 30 varieties of preserves from this bountiful region, including the usual suspects (jams, jellies, marmalade, and preserves) as well as vinegars, verjus, and even a dried fruit bar or two. And while I can't share the winners with you 'til after tonight — I don't even know who won our category as it was a blind tasting — I gleaned a few tips and tricks for analyzing what makes a truly ribbon-worthy preserve.


Keep reading for the (unofficial) guidelines that I've learned to use to distinguish between a preserve that's good and one that's great.

For a fun exercise, gather together all of the preserves in your kitchen — better yet, combine forces with a foodie friend! — and taste each plain, keeping the above criteria in mind. You might be surprised to find what comes to light.

Photo: Anna Monette Roberts

Source URL