Pick of the puddings: pricey doesn’t always mean best

by , Senior Food Researcher Consumer Rights 18 November 2012
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In our expert Christmas pudding taste test, the panel awarded Best Buy status to luxury offerings from Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Tesco. How much would you spend on a Christmas pudding?

Luxury Christmas pudding with a sprig of holly on top

Christmas puddings from M&S and Waitrose, which were the most expensive in our blind taste test, came out bottom of the scoreboard. It seems that price doesn’t always reflect quality.

Our panel disliked the overly sweet and sticky texture of Waitrose’s cherry and almond topped Christmas pudding with edible glitter (£14.99 for 907g). But they really liked the ‘pleasant citrus notes’ and mellow alcohol flavour of the Tesco Finest Christmas Pudding with Courvoisier VS Cognac, which costs almost half as much (£7.99 for 907g).

Pudding the boat out

2012 Which? Christmas pudding taste test resultsI spend Christmas Day with relatives and they serve Christmas lunch with lots of champagne, wine and other treats. My contribution for the day is always the Christmas pudding, so would it be acceptable for me to take a £7.99 one? Personally, I feel that I should spend a bit more to reflect what my hosts have spent.

Instead I’ve bought a luxury pudding from an artisan producer that cost around £25. Who knows if we’ll be able to tell the difference, but I’ll at least feel better about it.

If the shoe was on the other foot and I was hosting, I’d happily serve up a Best Buy pud and feel proud of my savings.

How much do you spend on a Christmas pudding? Do you make your own?

Does Christmas pudding feature on your festive menu?

Yes, I buy one (57%, 547 Votes)

Yes, I make my own (17%, 165 Votes)

No, I don't like it (16%, 157 Votes)

I don't know (5%, 49 Votes)

No, I don't celebrate Christmas (5%, 40 Votes)

Total Voters: 966

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23 comments

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wavechange

I love Christmas pudding, but am not too keen on ones that are very rich. In my experience home-made puddings are usually very good and often better than those bought from shops.

What I hate are some of the tasteless offerings that you usually get if you go out for a meal. Any supermarket offering would probably be better, and if you are offered anything decent, it’s usually a tiny portion.

I’ve found Which? advice on Christmas puddings to be very useful.

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william

I’ve answered Yes I make my own, when in fact its my mum and now Cousin that makes them. Not had one from my cousin yet, so keeping fingers crossed. The ones I have from my mum are always the ones she’d make from last year.

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John Ward

I wonder if Waitrose hide one of those little green counters they give you at the checkout in their puds? With Tesco’s it no doubt half a sixpence and Morrisons probably can’t even spare a groat.

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wavechange

Unfortunately health & safety considerations seem to have outlawed the manufacture of food containing the coins we remember from our youth. This can be found in the Christmas and Other Festive Puddings Regulations 1978, as amended. I believe that there is an exemption for consenting parents (or guardians) and their children to be allowed to make and consume the offending objects.

Incidentally, the traditional use of holly with red berries to decorate Christmas puddings is the first known use of the ‘traffic light’ symbols to denote food with a high fat and sugar content. I believe that it fell through a time warp, to use the language of science fiction enthusiasts.

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John Ward

As ever, Wavechange, we are indebted to you for your pearls of wisdom on even the most improbable subjects. I seem to remember those regulations being made on April 1st 1978, and like a good pudding, to the gullible, they remain edible almost for ever. Of course, to replicate the spending power of a pre-decimal sixpence you would probably have to put a £2 coin in the mix and hope not to choke on it.

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Rosemary

I am amazed so few people make their own Christmas puddings. It is not difficult, tastes good and also much cheaper.

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Malc.Moore

I am surprised Aldi Christmas pudding got any rating a couple of years ago i took 1 back to the shop and complained about how many nuts it contained the manager gave me a refund and apologized.Aldi
extra special Stollern at£3.99 is very tasty though if you can get one they usually sell fast.

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Anton

Nobody seems to have commented on the ludicrously high quantities of sugar in all supermarket Christmas puddings — sometimes as much as 60%, never less than 40%. This makes for sickeningly oversweet (as well as scarcely healthy) puddings. I know Brits have a notoriously sweet tooth but they would find that puds with 25-30% sugar (and that’s scarcely low) would be no less tasty. And the hypocrisy of said supermarkets, when they’re always proclaiming their commitment to low fat, salt and sugar!

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wavechange

I agree that it would be nice to have healthier Christmas puddings. Whether they would taste nice is another question.

If you have Christmas pudding once a year, the sugar and fat are unlikely to kill you. Just remember that a 680 g Mrs Peek’s pudding is meant to contain several servings. :-)

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wavechange

Oops. I’m getting two messages mixed up, Anton. It wasn’t you who mentioned Mrs Peek’s puddings.

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ECS Sanchez

Hi, Wavechange! Comment noted! (Re: Mrs Peek’s) We are a big familly when we all get together – and, yes, we keep the portions of Christmas pudding small – it’s for the enjoyment of the once-a-year nostalgic taste (or not so nostalgic some years when we can’t find the right one), not for the over filled and and uncomfortably heavy feeling that we would get from more than a small portion!

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Val

Hi Anton: A lot of the sugar comes from the dried fruit in the pudding – more dried fruit gives a higher percentage of sugar. The dark sugar and treacle added to the cakey bit don’t taste so sweet and anyway we only indulge in Christmas pud once or twice a year! Just enjoy! We have ours with brandy or rum butter – mmmmm!

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ECS Sanchez

The best Christmas pudding ever, for our family, is still the tried and tested Mrs Peeks Christmas Pudding, that used to be available in every descent grocery shop worth its name. Good, honest, rich, and fruity, but not too overwhelming, it rounded off the Christmas meal a treat!
But now they are like gold-dust to find, as all the food store chains compete to make theirs the most popular, and the few, compared to yesteryear, that do get onto the market, often find themselves changing hands on eBay for a small fortune as people try to relive the nostalgia of Christmases past.
Don’t ‘Bloomin’ well ‘tell’ me that Waitrose, or any other fine foods purveyor can offer anything better! I’d vote for the politician who made the real Christmas pudding available to all every Christmas Day! … Though the truth be told, we usually get together on another day, after Christmas, to have our Christmas desert, being too full to find a corner for it on the said day!
Merry Christmas everyone! And a Happy New Year too, when it comes…

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Denise

We all love, love, love the Carved Angel Christmas puddings. If you haven’t tried them, you’re missing a real treat. My mum used to make our Christmas pudding when I was young and this is the closest I can find to that. It is much lighter than a traditional dark pudding but this suits our taste. Merry Christmas to all.

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Pderob

I totally second that – I’ve been buying the Carved Angel’s traditional pud for a few years (I think they were mentioned in an edition of The Week which discussed the best food providers for Christmas, along with Hebridean Smokehouse from whom I order my smoked salmon!)

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ECS Sanchez

Thanks for the tip. Will look out for them!

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Lesley

When you make your own you can adjust ingredients to the family taste: here it is NO candied peel or suet ( I use unsalted butter), or nuts, but extra cherries, glace pineapple etc. yum yum!

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Malc.Moore

As a single person home made is not for me Val you make an excellent point about the sugar content in Christmas pudding i seriously thinking not to buy 1 this year instead go for a decent shortcrust Bramley Apple pie.

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entente cordiale

WHAT NO XMAS PUD REVIEWS IN TIME FOR XMAS 2013?????

How disappointing :( ( Nothing whatsoever in the latest issue of Which reviewing Xmas puds. Shame on you, Which! You could at least have told us whether there are any changes to your 2012 xmas puds reviews, especially given the possibility that supermarkets and manufacturers have reduced the quality of their ingredients to maintain profit margins.

We’ll probably taste test them next year, Entente Cordiale. We don’t have enough pages to cover mince pies and puddings every year, sadly, though maybe if there’s enough demand we might be able to make a case for it.

We don’t know about quality of ingredients. We always taste premium puddings compared against each other to see which is the best tasting each year. Food products have their recipes, taste and value for money reviewed all the time, so it’s unlikely we’d be able to carry over any results.

We’re always very pleased to see that people are using our taste tests. If you’re a mince pie fan, do check out our Convo on this year’s mince pie taste test that will be published tomorrow.

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Malc.Moore

I agree which should do a taste test on Christmas puddings most cook well in a microwave so it would not be time consuming.Those of you who shop at Aldi i suggest you read my previous post on
Posted 20 November 2012 at 6:28 pm 1 – 1 many branded Christmas Puddings have disappeared off
the Supermarket shelves so buyers have less knowledge of what they are buying.Years ago my mother would buy about 3 brands and it would be a family taste test.

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Figgerty

I prefer home made mince pies to the horribly sweet deep ‘luxury’ mince pies you buy in packets in all the supermarkets. Next comes the bakeries own mince pies. Waitrose and Sainsburys are quite nice and some independent bakers sell lovely ones also.

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Entente Cordiale

@ Chis Matthews – I’m really and truly surprised and disappointed at this response but I understand you can’t wave a magic wand. Surely `Which’ is missing out on a chance to gain more subscribers: Christmas is a time when households inevitably spend a vast amount more on a range of food, drink and associated products that they wouldn’t normally consume such as Xmas puds, Xmas cakes, crackers, mulled wine, the list is endless! Consumers really do need to know a month or two in advance what’s best value for money and it needs to be done EVERY year. Just a thought ;)

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