Big Allotment Challenge, Episode 5

Return to the plot

Our fifth visit to the Big Allotment Challenge was essentially a semi-final with a double-elimination.

The team’s tasks this episode were to grow onions, show chrysanthemums and make fruit butter and fruit jelly.

The ‘Grow Challenge’ was to be judged as always by Jim Buttress and he asked the teams to present three identical onions.

The ideal onion should have a well-ripened bulb, a thin neck and be free of pests and blemishes. The outer skin should be removed and the necks tied back neatly to keep the onion firm.

The onions would be judged purely on appearance, not taste.

The weather leading up to judging day had been warm, dry and sunny which is ideal for onion growing. What could possibly go wrong?

Rupert and Dimi grew the Rumba variety and though they were tied well the three bulbs weren’t identical.

Kate and Eleanor grew the popular Sturon variety. They were perfectly matched with a firm bulb and thin neck.

Jo and Avril presented three well-matched Sturon that they even weighed to ensure total conformity.

Alex and Ed impressed Jim with their perfectly matched, blemish-free Hercules variety.

Gary and Pete grew Ailsa Craig which are often good for showing but Jim wasn’t entirely impressed with how they had been tied.

Jim’s final decision was a close one. He favoured both Alex and Ed and Kate and Eleanor, but decided to award the latter couple with the award.

Chrysanthemum beauty contest

Nineteen weeks before judging day the contestants embarked on their Chrysanthemum odyssey.

The task was to produce three perfect examples for judging by Jim Buttress. The other challenge was to make a floral pedestal to be judged by Jonathan Moseley.

Rupert and Dimi’s flowers were rather uneven but their pedestal arrangement made clever use of foliage and Jonathan commented that it had a defined focal area – exactly what he was looking for.

Alex and Ed grew the Myss Reanne variety and they looked very good. Jonathan thought their pedestal looked a little bit funereal and that perhaps it had been trapped in automatic doors!

Gary and Pete chose to grow Red Lilian Hoek but despite the exotic name Jim was not impressed. He said they were everything he didn’t want to see. Jonathan described their pedestal as an optimistic attempt.

Kate and Eleanor grew Jewel Collection and although foliage was good the blooms weren’t consistent. Their pedestal won praise from Jonathan with its good workmanship.

Jo and Avril opted to grow Spray Collection and produced an acceptable result. Their pedestal was a slightly odd shape with the foliage cut too short at the bottom which made it feel detached from the stand.

Jim chose Alex and Ed as deserved winners of the Chrysanthemum challenge while Jonathan chose Rupert and Dimi’s pedestal as his winner.

Fruit butter and jelly challenge

Thane Prince asked the teams to make a fruit butter and a fruit jelly.

The fruit jelly should be clear and bright with no cloudy pulp and should taste of the ingredients used to make it.

Fruit butter is a fruit puree that is cooked down well and is smooth with no pips or stones. All fruit should be peeled prior to cooking and all fibrous strands removed.

Kate and Eleanor made a blackcurrant jelly. Thane shone a torch through the jar to check for clarity. She might have been expecting a nice wobbly jelly when she opened the jar but unfortunately it was more like a thick syrup.

Rupert and Dimi made rhubarb and strawberry butter which had a very good texture and balance of flavour but Thane concluded that the texture was wrong.

Alex and Ed’s rhubarb and redcurrant butter was too solid and Thane remarked that she hadn’t chewed many fruit butters before!

Jo and Avril really impressed Thane with their rhubarb, blueberry and apple butter. It had a lovely texture and was undoubtedly the best butter she had tasted that day.

Gary and Pete’s melon and rose jelly turned out to be a runny liquid though Thane did praise the method they used.

Summing up Thane said that she was really disappointed with the contestant’s efforts this episode. There wasn’t one good jelly and only one outstanding butter.

This meant that the winners of this challenge could only be Jo and Avril.

The end

The three judges convened to decide who would fall prey to the double-elimination.

Jim stated that Kate and Eleanor deserved a place in the final while Jonathan chose Ed and Alex as his finalists.

Jim thought that Gary and Pete were consistently bad though Thane said they were very creative in the kitchen.

Rupert and Dimi hadn’t managed to impress Jim with their vegetable growing.

After much debate it was decided that the two couples to leave the show would be Gary and Pete and Jo and Avril.

A new beginning

The final is almost upon us. The remaining three teams will compete for the title by growing melons and sweetcorn, showing dahlias and producing a gift hamper.

Be sure to tune in to see if your favourite team wins!

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