How We Make Great-Tasting Preserves
The Three Magical Elements
Whether it’s savoury or sweet, making a good quality preserve isn’t too difficult once you’ve had a little practice. Let’s face it, most of us would happily eat a home-made pickle or marmalade that came from an old family recipe – and we’d choose that over a premium shop-bought version.
Making a GREAT preserve takes a bit more, however. By great, we mean one that can stand out not just against shop-bought products or even your granny’s best strawberry jam, but one that stands out amongst the growing number of really good artisan preserve ranges.
Imagine that your lemon curd is being tasted at a food fair, alongside 6 other artisan lemon curds. How do make sure that yours is the one that stands out?
The secret is, to be honest, a bit obvious.
You need three things: a recipe that you’ve refined over many versions; the best ingredients you can source; a cooking process that creates a rich, rounded flavour whilst retaining the characteristics of the principal ingredients.
Most of our recipes have been developed from scratch and have undergone lots of tasting to get them to perfection. They certainly live up to our ‘big flavours’ claim. The ones that we’ve picked-up along the way sometimes end up staying the same, as they can’t be improved, but most end up with a tweak or two!
When you’re using ingredients that can’t be grown in this country, there’s no point in claiming that it’s all locally-sourced (unless your ‘source’ is the local wholesaler!). In any case, we’ve been using ingredients from the 4 corners of the world for centuries and it’s how many British preserves came into existence. What we can promise is that, where practical, our ingredients are sourced locally. More importantly, poor quality ingredients simply don’t produce the flavours we need, so we always use the best ingredients we can find, season-by-season.
Often overlooked, the cooking of a preserve is where the final flavours, texture and consistency are made or broken. Time and temperature are both critical. If you’ve made jam, you’ll know how important the ‘set’ is, but also how easy it is to end up tasting too unripe or a bit caramelised. By cooking in small commercial-grade ‘kettles’, we can control the time and temperature to perfection – ensuring that we get the maximum flavour that comes when a preserve is ‘just cooked enough’.