Making jam has a very long history. The earliest cookbook, called Of Culinary Matters, which dates back to 1st century Rome, contained recipes for making jam. It was part of the diet in the countries of the Middle East where there was an abundance of sugar that grew naturally. This enabled the people to have vitamins from fruit all year round and a welcome splash of summer colour with their food for the dark winter months. Crusaders returning to Britain brought the jams and recipes back with them.Once it became known that Vitamin C prevented scurvy, jam became part of the staple used on ships. Fresh fruit did not last long, but the jam lasted for the length of the trip providing the sailors with the essential vitamins they needed to stay well.
At Ffynnon Beuno, we started out as jam makers when we got really positive comments from guests staying with us <see pic> when they tried the jams we were making from our strawberry and currant plants in our kitchen garden. From there, we renovated a very tired old utility room and put in stainless steel units and wipe clean walls – and then got ourselves assessed as a food business. Our first big customer was a local outlet – Tweedmill in St Asaph with a farm shop only two miles down the road from us (how about that for low food miles!) to whom we supplied some 250 jars just before Christmas. This was which was huge fun as we did a stand in the shop and ran a “tasting session” and got great feedback and also some useful product ideas. We are planning another one very soon to showcase our chutney made from homegrown ingredients. Our jam is popular from the farm gate too – not only do many guests buy jars to take home with them when they leave, in the spirit of a healthy rural economy, we recently swopped some raspberry and merlot jam for sheep fleeces and blackcurrant jam for fresh milk!