Saturday’s competition resulted in three new jam champions being announced to the world, and a sustained sugar high for our judging panel. That’s right – the Great Welly Jamoff has been and gone, and was a wonderful fruity success. If you missed it, don’t panic! You can view Tom’s brilliant 10-minute video below (Tom’s not just a skilled videographer – he knows how to make mean pot of damson cheese as well):
Before the public part of the competition began, Al Brown and Kelda Hains (our judges) pre-judged all of the jams entered, in order to whittle the field down to 5 finalists. It was extremely entertaining to watch them test and taste their way through 24 jams, marmalades and jellies, which they rated according to colour, taste, set, originality and presentation.
It’s worthwhile noting at this point that the flavours they sampled their way through included: elderflower and rhubarb marmalade, kiwifruit jam, tomato chilli jam x 2, black doris plum jam, strawberry balsamic jam, peach jam, bramble jam, cape gooseberry jam, portberry jam, grapefruit and tangelo marmalade, feijoa jam, ginger jelly jam, seville orange marmalade, damson cheese, grape jelly, plum jam, rose quince and vodka jelly, black grape jelly, and elderberry and black grape mulled wine jelly. An amazing varied mix of flavours and textures! Thankfully, Wendy from Cultured Petone provided the judging panel with some ‘Natural Buffalo Yoghurt‘ to refresh their palates in between tastings.
Lynda Hallinan from NZ Gardener Magazine was a stunning MC, and kicked off proceedings at 2pm. She welcomed the large crowd that had assembled, and invited them to come forward and sample all 24 jars for themselves, so that the judges could tally their results. The crowd surged forth and happily tucked into the different flavours on offer – voting by leaving an iceblock stick in front of their favourite jar.
Lynda then announced the 5 judges’ finalists, and each spoke briefly about their entry: Melissa had a vivid green kiwifuit jam, Viv an autumnal-coloured cape-gooseberry jam, Brock presented Emma’s feijoa jam, Don had a lovely plum jam and Jo had entered a beautiful amber-coloured rose quince and vodka jelly. Before announcing the winner, Al spoke briefly about the history of NZ jam-making in New Zealand, noting that:
… there’s something wonderful about a jar of jam. It’s something that a lot of love has gone into. I read something that Kelda said the other day: “that burst of sunshine in the middle of winter” – and that’s what jams, relishes and jellies etc are all about.
and he and Kelda kept us waiting in suspense until they finally announced…. Don as the winner – with his Billington plum jam! (And hilariously, Don was *very* cagey about letting us all know what variety of plum he’d used!) Don’s prize for the most ‘Jamtastic Jam’, included a sweet spoon trophy and a $250 voucher to spend at Arthur Holmes.
Craig and Catherine were up next, with their little battle of the preserve. It’s fair to say that Craig was desperate to reclaim the spoon of triumph from Catherine, following last year’s competition. He entertained the judges and audience with his story about “Craig’s jam” – a boysenberry blend – while Catherine offered up her “exclusively Wellington-grown-and-made” wild strawberry and rose jam. The judges conferred amongst themselves for a few seconds, before declaring Craig to be the winner this time round, much to the extreme angst of Catherine who burst into tears and demanded a recount. (No, not really – but we’re after high drama here.)
Finally, it was time for the judges to present the People’s Choice Award. But not before disqualifying Craig from the running, given the large number of Xero workmates who had coincidentally all voted for his jam! The iceblock sticks were counted, a clear winner was determined and the award went to… Jo, from Bees Blessing, for her jar of rose quince and vodka jelly (just look at that amazing golden colour!). Jo also received a spoon trophy and a $250 voucher to spend at Arthur Holmes.
To wrap up the competition, Lynda thanked the judges, and Craft 2.0 for hosting the event, Arthur Holmes for the main prizes, Ponoko for the laser-cut goodies in the goody bag, Chelsea for providing each entrant with a bag of their jam setting sugar, NZ Gardener Magazine for Homegrown Recipes, and Wendy from Cultured Petone for providing the yoghurt and soughdough bread.
The crowd hung around for a long time after the competition, and continued to sample the various different flavours laid out on the table – all the hallmarks of a fun and successful jam competition, I think you’ll agree.
Thank you so much to everyone who entered, and to Al, Kelda and Lynda for their warmth, tastebuds and humour on the day. I liked Al’s suggestion that this is just the beginning… who’s up for next year? And what was your favourite jam/marmalade/jelly flavour?