Main event: Crab apple jellies, fruit cheeses and wild chutneys.
Is it worth the calories: These are delicious summer calories carefully preserved for winter: savour them.
Tips: Emulate their success with recipes from their Hedgerow Cookbook.
Ginny and Caro have been friends since their schooldays in Midhurst. After a good career with a major food producer, Ginny wanted to return to the home kitchen and make a second career from producing food that she could put her heart and soul in. Despite thinking that preserves was a bad economic perspective, the couple decided that if they allied their love of the countryside and foraging with a determination to be really different then they could see a gap in the market.
The result is a wonderful series of jellies, chutneys and fruit cheeses. During their research they discovered that the fruit of crab-apple trees, used as pollinators in orchards in Kent, all went to waste. And crab-apple jelly was one of their homemade products they couldn’t find in the shops.
At first they picked all the apples themselves; they have to be processed within two days as they bruise so easily. The fruit is boiled and strained, then frozen until the jelly is made. Most of the crab apples are old tress but no-one knows their names so Ginny and Caro call the ones that make the best jelly ‘big pinks’. Their range now includes mint and chili crab apple jelly. Made in a traditional way, the jellies have a beautiful glow, a lovely soft set and a delicate but intense flavour.
Again looking for wild fruits that are unusual and have a more intense flavour than modern hybrids, the pair developed their damson cheese – a rich, dark, fruit preserve that is firm enough to slice and is traditionally served with cheese. Quince cheese was added to the list – made from another forgotten fruit whose aromatic appeal deserves rediscovery. And then came chutneys . . . wild plum, and red onion marmalade.
Ginny and Caro bring a professionalism to their kitchen craft that is bringing rewards. They sell to some produce to local shops and distribute nationwide through Cotswold Fayre. Their big break was their deal with Cook, who needed some delicious products that were also well-presented to display alongside their frozen ready meals. They have plans to increase their range but continue with their search for excellence. We know we can rely on them!