Summer season and jam making 2016

This is our blog so we’d like to introduce ourselves.  Our name is My Farmers Market Limited, a husband and wife small home business.  We wear 2 different ‘hats’. 

The first ‘hat’ that we wear is as an organiser of farmers markets in Kent which we have been doing since June 2000.  We started running farmers markets when they were first being developed in the UK and became involved as we wanted to purchase local produce directly from the producer. 

Our other ‘hat’ is as a jam, marmalade and chutney producer where we use local produce wherever possible.  We’ve been making jams since 2009 and we sell these items mainly at farmers markets and a few other events during the year.   We are registered with our local Environmental Health Department and our premises and the farmers markets have both been inspected by Environmental Health Officers

The beauty of being at different farmers markets is that you meet the farmers, growers and customers who have different fruit and vegetables that we can use in our preserves.  We have customers who bring unusual fruits such as josterberry from their allotment for us to make into jam. 

We also have a customer who brings in grapes from her garden to be made in to grape jelly.  It also means that we get regular updates on how the different crops are coping with the changeable Kentish weather.

Summer 2016 was a variable year for the fruit that we use in our preserves.  During the warm winter plants and trees budded early and then slowed down during a wet spell. 

    The new jam making year normally starts with the soft fruits – strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, red/blackcurrants and we are lucky enough some white currants too.

After the soft fruit  are the different types of plums which are grown locally. 

Violetta Plum is an early cropping plum which many people haven’t heard of, the plums themselves are sold at the farmers market.  We obtain a large quantity for making in to jam all of which we prepare by hand.  

The violetta plum jam has a very loyal following of customers now which makes it very difficult for us to calculate how much fruit we need to obtain to see us through the year with regarding to making and selling the jam.  This year the different plums cropped within weeks and sometimes days of each other which meant at one time customers could purchase Jubilee Plums, Violetta Plums, Edwards Plums and Victoria Plums almost at the same time.  

It was a very busy time for us preparing the fruit – de stoning plums, cooking them etc., Due to a very hot spell the final crop of plums – Marjorie Seedlings didn’t all survive the hot weather and as a result this year we will have limited jars of Marjorie Seedling Plum jam available.

Whilst the Plums were available Greengages also appeared and shortly afterwards Damsons became available too.  

Damson jam is something which is always very popular with our customers and we order a large quantity of damsons from one fruit grower in Meopham Kent – we received the bulk of our damsons in mid September this year. 

De stoning the damsons is a very time consuming job and each year we try to think of a different way to do this to save time.

Our normal source of quinces had reported to us early in the summer that their Quince crop was very low this year so we spent time phoning our contacts to source locally grown quinces. 

Quince Jelly is something we try to make each year and we display a few quinces on our stall to explain how we prepare them and how we make them in to jelly

Our final capture of this year was some Medlars which we make in to Medlar Jelly. 

It’s been very difficult to find the Medlars and once we receive them we leave them to ‘blet’ before cooking them and straining the juice to make the jelly.

We make all our products in very small batches throughout the year. We also produce items if several customers request a certain flavour we don’t already make.  Any extra jars are sold at the farmers market and often to we continue to make them if they prove popular. 

At present we make over 20 different flavours of jam – some traditional flavours others more unique such as pear and chocolate jam.  We currently offer 9 different flavours of marmalade and on average around 15 chutneys/jellies or pickles. 

As a very small business we operate a loyalty card scheme where a customer receives a stamp on a loyalty card for each jar that they purchase. 

The card can be used at any farmers markets or events that we attend.

We are members of Produced in Kent and Keep it in Kent too.