It’s no secret that we have a very special spot in our hearts for Japan and all that is Japanese, so when an email dropped into the Coco & Vine inbox with a heads-up about a Japanese premium jam about to hit the shelves in Sydney, you know we’re going to be bringing some bread and butter! I know, you’re probably thinking, what’s the big deal about jam? Hear us out for a second though! This jam will make you re-think what a true quality jam can be.
Aohata Jam might not be a household name for many of us, but in Japan, Aohata is the jam of jams. So, of course we had to head to the Aohata in-store launch to get our share of the good stuff. Lucky for us, Colin Rennie from Aohata was at the launch to give us the inside info on all that is jammy. We wouldn’t want to get into a jam about jam facts now, would we?
Just a little backstory for you foodie geeks out there. Way back in 1910, Toichiro Nakashima (who would go on to lay the foundations that would later become Aohata Corp. Japan) travelled to England and instantly fell under the spell of one of England’s most famous exports, marmalade. On his return to Japan, he was determined to harness the legendary fruit basket in Japan’s Setouchi region and create jams of unrivalled quality. The attention to quality has evidently remained, as Aohata has risen to be Japan’s pre-eminent jam maker and the leader in the extremely popular low-sugar jams market. Never one to rest on its crown, Aohata has recently released their latest range of No-Sugar Added jams, and that’s what caught our attention!
All jam history aside, the true test is in the taste, right? Sure, but let me run you through our jam tasting flight first. With Colin’s help, we select out a rainbow of flavours that include strawberry, fig, peach, and blueberry. Then it’s off to get some mates, a baguette, cheese, picnic blanket, and our tasting notebooks, and head down to the park to do some real world jam testing.
The first spread to hit the bread is the wildly popular strawberry Aohata’s 55 series. This is a low-sugar jam that is not only bursting with flavour, but has a perfect balance of sweetness and true berry notes. I think that’s what really distinguishes these jams from other store bought varieties, it’s the dominance of the actual fruit in the taste and not just an overwhelming sugary sensation. These days, it’s hard to remember what real strawberries taste like when we’ve become so used to an overly processed, and overly sweetened, imitation that many products purvey. Not so in Aohata’s approach to preserves. The chunks of juicy strawberry in the jar and the aroma that is so distinctly of actual strawberries can attest to their unique approach.
Next we move on to the first in the much anticipated No-Sugar Added range. The No-Sugar Added Blueberry kisses the tongue with a pleasant tartness and whole blueberries that burst in the mouth. Again, the sweetness is complementary to the fruit flavour and never dominates. It really lets you experience the quality of the fruit and the ‘whatever’ you’ve spread it on.
We pop the lid on the fig jam, and instantly there’s no doubt that this is a fig fans fantasy. The aroma is as if you’ve just reached up and picked a ripe fig off the tree. The taste and texture play right along, as the fleshiness of the fig and pop of the seeds, come alive in the mouth.
You can scour your local supermarket for it, but I doubt you’ll find too many jars of white peach jam. Being so unique, we saved this treat for last. Like the others in the range, the scent of the fruit hits you immediately. Again, juicy chunks of white peach fill the jar and make it easy to get greedy with a spoon. The taste reflects the subtlety of the peach itself, with less acidity than you’d expect and a smooth, natural sweetness that would be perfect on yoghurt or cheese. In fact, we can think of so many ways to use these jams apart from simply spreading them on toast!
With the last slice of baguette snatched from the bread board, we begin packing up our jam picnic and start scheming on how to get a hold of all the other flavours in the rainbow. Forgive us for sounding a little over enthusiastic about Aohata’s jams, but when you mix jams of this quality with a group of Japan obsessed foodies, what else would you expect?!