Jams and marmalades
Seville oranges are arriving in local shops and I am sure there are lots of marmalade-makers getting ready to make an annual batch. I picked up some good-looking Sevilles at Carpenters Nursery this week, and Bourngiorno Italia and the Wednesday street market, St Albans are also good sources.
I thought this the perfect time of year to tell you about Sweet Lily, a small local company who specialize in making small batches of unusual marmalades, jams, and preserves. I met them at the St Albans Food and Drink Festival back in the autumn, where they had a stall selling preserves as well as delicious home-made cakes. I bought a grapefruit and strawberry marmalade, knowing that I love both ingredients, but also a little skeptical about whether it would work. It was really lovely, and delicious on toast for breakfast. Sweet Lily were shortlisted in the Local Gem category at the Food and Drink Awards, losing out to The Pudding Stop, but they told me it was lovely to be in such good company.
Lily Pratt and Jessica Black started Sweet Lily in 2011 and make all the Sweet Lily goodies themselves, using seasonal and local ingredients, where available. One of their bestsellers is Rhubarb, Strawberry and Vanilla jam, with the rhubarb coming from Boulders on the Sandridge Road. Most of their soft fruits come from Hawkswick Lodge Farm on the Harpenden Road. Lily explained that they also use chillis grown in her garden for the chilli jam. At this time of year they are making marmalades including Seville Orange, Lime, Clementine and Amaretto, Orange and Whisky, and Lemon and Ginger.
Change is underway as Jessica has moved, but the business is doing well. Lily is in discussion with a few local independent shops about selling the products, but mostly you will find Sweet Lily at school fairs or at the food markets at the Alban Arena. There is an online shop at http://www.sweetlily.co.uk and if you live local to Sandridge you can pick them up, saving any postage costs. Individual jars sell at £2.50, which is good value for the quality of the ingredients. One lovely idea that has been very popular is the Sweet Lily club, where you order something to be delivered each month, either to yourself or as a gift. You can buy a subscription for 3 months to a year, with prices starting at £18.50. The schedule this year starts with Pineapple Jam in January and includes a mini Simnel cake in April, Rhubarb, Strawberry and Vanilla Jam in August, Pumpkin and Apple Jam in November, and Christmas Chutney in December. If you tend to buy the same preserves week in week out, then this is a lovely way to try something new.
I asked Sweet Lily if we could include one of their marmalade recipes, but Lily suggested pineapple jam for an interesting change. Lily comes from Portugal and pineapple jam is very popular there, and this is the time of year when imported pineapples are good value in the UK, so why not give it a try? It is a very easy recipe; the jam is rich and sweet and is perfect for filling a sponge cake or stirring into thick yoghurt for a quick dessert. And if you don’t feel like making your own, visit http://www.sweetlily.co.uk and buy it ready made. It is a lovely taste of sunshine, as we recover from our snowy days!
This makes 6 12oz jars and will keep for at least six months. Delicious in sponge cakes or piled onto scones with fresh cream. Can also be spooned over yoghurt and icecream.
1kgs of fresh pineapple (cut into small cubes)
1kgs of sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Cook the pineapple and lemon juice in a preserving pan on medium heat for 1 hour stirring occasionally.
2. Remove from heat and add the sugar. Stir the sugar in until fully dissolved.
3. Boil rapidly for another 15 minutes or until setting point. Once setting point is reached, take of the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
4. Stir and pour into sterilized jars.