From NHS to chutney: how Surrey’s jam makers became one of the UK’s best

A Surrey jam and preserve company that won a Great Taste food award last year has told how a catering award led to national success in jam and preserve making. Jam Packed Preserves, based in the Stoneleigh area of ​​the borough of Epsom and Ewell, won the award for its spicy mango chutney last year, one of only 30 listed nationally on the list of winners.

Sue and Kevin Woodward are co-directors of Jam Packed Preserves. You might recognize his brand of insects in food shops, garden centers and farm shops in London and the South East.

Sue says of the acclaimed chutney: “Most mango chutneys are quite sweet and lack the heat, but people who like spicy food often want something a little more. So [the spicy mango chutney]it’s a nice kick, a bit of heat, so for those who like a little more spice with their food, it’s a great accompaniment.”

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The story of Jam Packed Preserves began with the couple’s batch, which produced far more fruit than they themselves could eat or even freeze, so Sue asked her mother how to make jam. Sue explains that the rest is history.

In 2005 it was first established as Susie’s Kitchen, selling out at local events and gaining popularity from there, including a finalist for its pot of strawberry jam in the southern regional heat. -is from the BBC Great British Village Show. It was around the middle of the last decade that it became the company it is today.

She says: “It really started when my husband left the NHS. We found the name [in 2014], got a logo and started doing some more. What has happened over the past two years is that things have really taken off. We reached out to other independent businesses across Surrey, many more people came to see us during the pandemic, because people were shopping locally – that’s probably what got us through the pandemic!”

Three preserves from Jam Packed’s selection – grapefruit marmalade, three-fruit marmalade and extra strawberry jam

The pandemic has seen their hard work rewarded – the Great Taste Awards 2020 rewarded no less than four of their products – their Stoneleigh Estate Honey (a two-star winner), Blackcurrant Extra Jam, Tipsy Seville Marmalade (rough cut) and Moruga Brainstrain Chilli Jam has all received accolades.

Working from home, around 50% of the work is done on site in their Stoneleigh kitchen. As you can see from the choices above, there is a wide variety and chili jams have been popular lately, a world away from their original jams.

Sue says, “They all have their own unique flavor, each pepper tastes different, and people who know their peppers like a particular flavor. Naga peppers [basis of their naga ghost chilli jam] are really hot, but they have a nice sweet flavor to start with, they lull you into a false sense of security, and others will give you more of an instant heat.

“They’re all made using traditional methods, they’re all in small batches, hand-mixed in a pot of maslin, like our grandmothers used to do. The time for each depends on the fruit and content. Some are quick, we can make a batch of raspberry jam in about an hour – we’ll get about eighteen jars from one batch.”

“Chutneys take longer, marmalade is a very time consuming process because most of the marmalades we make are cut by hand, we don’t use a chopper. Instead of boiling them for an hour and a half with the water to soften the skin, we now use a pressure cooker, but this is the only concession to modern technology in the treatment that we have made!”

It’s not just the standard flavours, there are logan berries, tay berries, blueberries in their range – a customer came from Buckinghamshire for their loganberry jam after other crops of loganberry failed l ‘last year.

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