The first thing you need to know about me is that I love jam. In the zombie apocalypse to come, it will be my reluctance to leave any jam behind that will be my fatal undoing. So when Aldi sent Cheapeats a box of their new Grandessa Specially Selected jams to review a few weeks ago, Peter very naturally valued his life enough to make sure that the jams came to their rightful home – in my belly (and, sometimes, particularly after a night out and to my enormous shame, on my face). It’s funny how things work out too, because Aldi stocks honey which purports to be from where I come from, Kilcrea, and features a drawing on the label of the ruined friary on my uncle’s farm.
So, it was with joy in my heart and a certain sense of the circularity of things that I got to take a spoon to Aldi’s Strawberry, Summer Fruit and Rhubarb & Vanilla conserves, as well as Three Fruit Irish Marmalade. Made in West Cork exclusively for Aldi, these jams are only €1.39 each and, overall, it’s the price that is their biggest selling point because, for me, a jamaholic, they would not compete with the really fantastic artisan jams you can get in Ireland. While the consistency is good, and each of them contains a high percentage of fruit, they are just too unequivocally sweet for me, which, admittedly, is not such a terrible thing in a product that is chiefly made of sugar. My favourite of the four is the Rhubarb & Vanilla, which has the most interesting flavour but could be a bit more tart and rhubarby for my taste. It’s important to note, however, that I generally sneer at strawberry jam, and am rather a stickler for marmalade with booze in it – whiskey, poitin, rum, you name it – which are prejudices not shared by everybody. I had also just bought an outstanding homemade summer fruits jam at the Point market, which definitely influenced my take on the Aldi variety.
In conclusion, while, quality-wise, they don’t quite reach the heights of the vastly more expensive top-of-the-range jams I lie awake thinking about at night, Aldi’s new Irish conserves and marmalades beat the pants off of the overly gelatine-heavy jam that is sold elsewhere at almost a euro more.