THE second annual World Jampionships was launched in the strawberry fields of Blairgowrie last week with the help of Gemma Bannerman, a student who hails from the soft fruit capital of Scotland.
Highlighting the stated goal of the Jampionships to “preserve the berry heritage for future generations”, Gemma says that her “absolute favourite” treat is strawberry jam and that her mum used to pick berries to pay for her own school uniform.
One of the competition organisers, Kay McClement, said that as well as the produce itself, the Jampionships place a huge emphasis on the heritage of the berries in this area, and passing skills from one generation to the next.
She said: “We would love to see people like Gemma who enjoy eating strawberries and jam getting into the kitchen and see just how easy it is to turn these fantastic local fruits in to tasty jam.
“She has made a start by having a lesson from award-winning raspberry jam maker Eileen McBain.
“Many people remember picking “the berries”. It was a truly unforgettable summer adventure for both the locals and those who came in on the “Berry Buses” for a huge local welcome, and fantastic fruit.”
Entries are being accepted now for the jam making competition, which last year saw over 100 entries from all over the UK and abroad. The eventual winner was Trisha Gagnon, the well-known bluegrass singer who lives on an organic berry farm in Canada.
This year the competition has been widened to include strawberry and blackcurrant jam as well as raspberry. Judging will take place in August, and the winners will be announced at the Dundee Flower and Food Festival on August 31, 2012.
Jampionships co-ordinator Tracey Baxter said that the project is not just about making jam or its heritage, but is a way of spotlighting Scotland as a “magnificent” soft fruit growing area to the rest of the world. She said: “We aim to promote excellent service, locally-sourced food, quality producers and produce, and eating establishments in and around Blairgowrie and East Perthshire.
“The Jampionships is a great way to do this and supports Blairgowrie and East Perthshire Tourist Association’s overall aim of promoting the region as a year-round, sustainable, quality tourism destination.
“The response was phenomenal last year, and there is obviously huge demand for this type of competition. It is open to artisans, chefs, and all jam fans.
“We are looking for a ‘Jampion’ with passion who can make the very best ‘real’ jam that lets the fruit do all the talking!
“We hope that those who missed out last year will try again, and that newcomers to the jam-making art will reach for their pots and pans. There is nothing like the aroma of freshly made jam filling a kitchen.”
The winners will be chosen from the categories of Homemade, Artisan, and Hotel/Restaurant/B&B. One of them will be crowned overall “World Jampion“.
This year there is a special Jubilee Jam-tastic Challenge for the artisan producer entering all three flavours and gaining the highest combined scores.
There will also be a class for Junior Jam Makers, aged 16 and under, and recognised community groups such as Brownies, Scouts and schools.
The competition will be judged by a prestigious panel including Shirley Wallace (SWRI), Lynn Smith (Blairgowrie High School, Willie Macleod (Scottish Preserves) and Tony Heath (Tony Heath Cook School).The Honorary Patrons supporting this year’s jam awards are Lady Claire MacDonald, an award-winning cook and food writer, and the Jampionship Judge 2011 Laurence Blair Oliphant, Chieftain of Blairgowrie and Rattray Highland Games. The closing date for the competition is August 20, 2012, and entry forms and further information can be found at www.worldjamawards.co.uk.