Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"Jam-Off" at the Bloomsbury Inn

Jam-Off? What exactly is a "jam off?" It's a friendly, fun j-petitor competition hosted by the Bloomsbury Inn, located in Camden, South Carolina. I entered when my friend, Robin Willoughby, who originally mentioned it to me last year, reminded me when it was coming up this year. I'm so glad I did because I won 3rd place!! I also roped a couple of my friends to enter too, and one of them won 2nd place ... and she thought she was a "jam failure" because she sometimes has problems with them setting up. Well, as you will see, she's now a "jam winner!"

Steeped in history, the construction of Bloomsbury was completed in 1849-1854 by Colonel James Chesnut, Sr and Mary Cox Chesnut. At that time, Colonel Chesnut was the third wealthiest man in South Carolina. He owned Mulberry Plantation (seven and one-half square miles in size today), Sandy Hill, Hermitage, Town Creek, Pine Tree, and Belmont. The home was built for their daughter, Sally Chesnut. Bloomsbury is named for Mary Cox Chesnut’s childhood home, Bloomsbury Court in Trenton, NJ.

In 2004 Bruce and Katherine Brown, both retired Air Force Colonels, purchased Bloomsbury and began an extensive renovation that continues today, including the ole’ kitchen house, the three-bay garage and grounds. In September of 2005, they opened Bloomsbury Inn as a bed and breakfast. The Browns have continued to update and restore Bloomsbury since opening.

Begun in 2013, and now in its fourth year, the Bloomsbury Inn Jam-Off was held Sunday, September 11, 2016. It's an amateur competition and a panel of jam-loving judges select the top three entries in the entire universe over all those entered. The top three entries are awarded a Jam-Off Certificate and Prize.

"In the beginning we had a Bloomsbury anniversary party each year. Four years ago in 2013 I had grown tired of that idea, so I came up with Jam-Off with J-petitors. Now in its 4th year, anyone from anywhere can compete and we have had entries from Washington state, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and all over South Carolina," explained Katherine Brown.

This year the event saw entries from Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, and South Carolina. There were 38 total entries featuring everything from Strawberry Jam to Carrot Cake Jam, to Champagne Jam.

The judges Margaret Lawhorn, Kirk Mays, and John Moncure scored every entry on flavor, color and texture. They do not know who entered what jar. After they finish scoring, they compare scores and notes, re-taste as necessary, and determine winners. They taste each jam on a tiny square of artisan white bread and have nothing but ice water to clear the flavor. Everyone who enters a jam, all past judges and local friends are invited. 

Each year a turkey is provided by Cooper Farms in Ohio by Cheryl Cooper, to allow all guests to taste or eat jams. The turkey is carved into small pieces and presented on a platter along with a variety of culinary delights. All the food is prepared by Katherine Brown, Bloomsbury Inn owner/host and friends Cheryl Cooper and Dody Phillips. Bruce Brown, Bloomsbury Inn owner/host, and a friend, Steve Brunson from Tennessee, handled all drinks.

And the winners were:
  • 1st place went to Joy Parrot, of Camden, SC with an old-fashioned Strawberry Jam
  • 2nd place to Claudia (Nikki) Carriere of Columbia, SC with a Cherry-Peach Jam
  • 3rd place was Mary Marshall of Wedgefield, SC and her Caramel Apple Jam 
  • Most Unique was Rachel Jellenik of Columbia, SC and Carrot Cake Jam 

This event was a fun and wonderful first-class evening for everyone who attended. The food was exquisite, and the jams ... oh my goodness, the jams! So many varieties and flavor profiles. I'm sure glad I wasn't a judge, every single one I sampled was amazing. Just take a look:

Be sure to check out my winning Caramel Apple Jam entry, the single most popular post on my website with more than 37,644 shares, and make it yourself for your family and friends. It's delish!

For more about the Bloomsbury Inn:
Visit their Website
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See their listing on Select Registry