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The Green Life: The Good Food Awards, Office-Style

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January 16, 2014

The Good Food Awards, Office-Style

Image_“Jelly is a very happy product” Texas jelly-maker Donna Collins-Yamini told Sierra in an interview for the March/April 2014 issue.

Her creation is among a handful of jellies, jams, marmalades, and fruit shrubs — all different kinds of preserves, or fruit cooked with sugar — to be featured in next month’s revamped Taste section, where we’ve partnered with the Good Food Awards to learn about foods that can ace a blind tasting and still pass a strict vetting for sustainable practices.

For weeks, four jars of fruit that are among the Awards’ crop of 24 preserves finalists have sat on an editorial office shelf, enticing us. . .

So in a nod to the annual Good Food Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception, which takes place from 6:15 to 10 p.m. today at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco, we carved a 20-minute sanctuary amid our scramble to wrap up the March/April issue to pop the jars open and conduct a very unofficial taste test.

The scores on a stack of sticky sheets were tallied and averaged — with ratings on a scale of 1 to 5, from discreetly spitting into a napkin to going back for fourths — and the results are in.

Image_7Bathtub Gin's Limoncello Strawberry: 2.8
Tangy, with a boozy kick, our twelve tasters either loved the strong flavor, or they didn’t. A couple reviewers thought the jam would pair well with something salty. Self-identified jam snob and Sierra senior editor Paul Rauber called the lemon-strawberry pairing a “striking combo.”

INNA Jam Royal Blenheim Apricot Shrub: 3 

If you like kombucha, you’ll probably be all over INNA Jam’s fruit syrup, or shrub, made from apricots. While the shrub could be used as a salad dressing, we tasted it as a drink mixed with sparkling water. Apple cider vinegar factors strongly in the sweet and sour flavor, which digital marketing intern Cathy Zhang called “special” and “a little bit unusual.” Editorial intern Callum Beals, an admitted jam and preserve aficionado, thought INNA’s shrub would “probably be good in a cocktail.”

Image_11The Jelly Queens Blood Orange Lavender Marmalade: 3.8 

Both the lavender and blood orange flavors earned high praises, from “great combo” and “complex” to “powerful” and a tartness that “lingers.” Sierra production and operations manager Vincent Ross, who also says he’s a jam and preserve buff, wrote, “I’d like to cook with this.”

American Spoon Wild Thimbleberry Jam: 4.5

Tasters went nuts for this simple concoction of just thimbleberries and sugar — more than half gave it a five. Raves ranged from "wicked good" to " ... like a summer berry pie. Awesome." The raspberry-like flavor made both web editor Della Watson and executive editor Steve Hawk feel like sticky-cheeked kids again. She called the flavor "classic goodness" that "reminds me of childhood," and he said the jam was "homemade comfort food. Took me back to kindergarten." 

--photos by Shannon Cox and Monica Lee

 

HS_Mackenzie_BLOG Mackenzie Mount is acting lifestyle editor at Sierra. She's cleaned toilets at Yellowstone National Park and studied sustainable cooking at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas. She took the leftover thimbleberry jam home and spread it on bars of dark chocolate -- not all in one sitting.

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