Food & Drink: Good taste - Tiptree organic jams

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The French prefer marmalade. Rhubarb and ginger sells in England and Germany but they hate it in America. Tastes in jam vary and no one knows that better than the Wilkin family, which has farmed the land in Tiptree, Essex, since the 1800s. In 1885, they launched Tiptree as a company. However, after four generations of family jam manufacturing, the present Mr Wilkin will be the last: now selling around 25 million jars a year, Tiptree has been turned into a trust and shared out among its employees.

The company has launched around 115 varieties over the years, its latest being a range of organic jams and marmalades, all with reduced sugar. "In Germany and Denmark in particular there is a very big interest in organic food, coupled with a growing concern about what we're eating," says Ian Fergod, Tiptree's sales director. Sensibly, it is starting with the varieties it knows best: strawberry, raspberry, and orange marmalade. "There are so few people farming organically world-wide that a regular supply of fruits is a major obstacle," says Fergod. Hoping to overcome this hurdle, Tiptree is busy converting land to organic use, and planted its first organic plum orchard a couple of weeks ago. Most good quality jams have a sugar content of 67 per cent per 100g, but the organic jams are 50 per cent sugar, giving a sharper, more fruity flavour.

And its strangest variety? "That would have to be medlar," says Fergod. "It looks like a rosehip, though it's part of the apple family. It's not picked until November when it's soft, squashy and brown. It makes a dark red jelly like spiced apple".

Tiptree Organic Strawberry and Raspberry Jams, pounds 1.79, Organic Marmalade pounds 1.59, available from Waitrose and all good food shops.