Who makes the tastiest Christmas pud?

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It just wouldn't be Christmas without cramming in that extra bit of food after a big, hearty meal.

But while the Christmas pudding is for afters, it's an important part of your festive table and definitely shouldn't be an afterthought.

Sara Drewell, chef lecturer at Fareham College, says: 'It's rich and fruity and a nice way to round off a meal. You probably wouldn't want to eat too much, but there's nothing to say you have to eat it on Christmas Day. You can keep it in the fridge for a while and enjoy it later on.'

She says hand-made can be best and she'll be eating one of the college puds on Christmas Day. But Sara also rates some of the supermarket offerings and was very impressed with some brands when she acted as judge in our taste test.

So what does she look for in a Christmas pudding?

'I like plump fruits, lots of rich flavour, a nice Christmassy aroma with lots of spices, a moist texture and a nice deep colour.'

Here's how she rated seven brands during a blind taste test – and you might be surprised by the results.

Waitrose Christmas pudding with Remy Martin, cream and pecans, 7.49

Taste 4

Texture 3

Appearance 2

Value for money 2

Total 11/20

Sara says: 'It collapsed a bit, which would be very disappointing if you were presenting it to family and friends. It's a shame because it has a nice rounded shape. I wouldn't be disappointed with this on Christmas day. It has some lovely nuts in and has that richness of flavour. It's a little bit dry but packed with flavour.'

Co-op Truly Irresistible Christmas Pudding (individual portion) 1.75

Taste 3

Texture 3

Appearance 2

Value for money 1

Total 9/20

Sara says: 'It's the perfect size for an individual. I don't think it's great value but if you were on your own you'd probably pay that. It could be deeper but it has good taste. There's some orange coming through and it's not too spicy. There's a good balance of flavour.'

Tesco Classic Christmas Pudding, 2

Taste 3

Texture 2

Appearance 5

Value for money 3

Total 13/20

Sara says: 'It has a denser texture and feels quite heavy. It looks good and the fruit is nice but it doesn't have a strong flavour. It would be quite heavy after a meal.'

Morrisons The Best Matured Christmas Pudding, 4.99

Taste 5

Texture 5

Appearance 5

Value for money 4

Total 19/20

Sara says: 'It's not heavy or stodgy but it's lovely and moist. It's got a really nice flavour with big plump pieces of fruit. It has some nice spices but they're not overpowering. This is a very good Christmas pudding, I'd be very happy with this.'

Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Cognac-laced Christmas Pudding, 4.99

Taste 3

Texture 2

Appearance 5

Value for money 2

Total 12/20

Sara says: 'It looks nice and gets top marks for holding its shape when we put it on the plate. But it has a drier consistency. It's not as moist as some of the others.'

Sainsbury's Basics Christmas Pudding, 1.09

Taste 1

Texture 2

Appearance 1

Value for money 2

Total 6/20

Sara says: 'The bowl has left an imprint on the pudding which doesn't look very good. It's flat at the bottom and looks pale in colour. It doesn't really have a Christmas aroma and is quite dry and crumbly. It has quite a bit of fruit but it's not very moist.

Snowy Lodge Luxury Christmas Pudding, Lidl, 2.99

Taste 4

Texture 4

Appearance 5

Value for money 5

Total 18/20

Sara says: 'Even though this is a big container, it's only about three quarters full but it's still bigger than the other puddings. It has a nice Christmas smell and the fruit is really plump. Again there's a taste of orange. It's rich with nice spices. This is a good pudding.'

PUDDING FACTS

An ancestor of the modern pudding was pottage, a meat and vegetable concoction which was slow cooked in a cauldron, with fruits, sugar and spices added.

By the time of Elizabeth I, prunes were added to the mix which became plum pottage.

Oliver Cromwell banned the celebration of Christmas and the eating of plum pudding, mainly because of its richness.

In the 19th century, Christmas puddings were boiled in a pudding cloth and they are still often represented as round. Since the beginning of the 20th century, they have been prepared in basins.

Traditionally puddings were made four or five weeks before Christmas.