The local company causing a stir in the jam world

Kitchen Garden chutneys

Kitchen Garden chutneys - Credit: Archant

Guy Warner celebrates a local success story that’s created quite a stir in the jam world…

To succeed in today’s food industry is tough. In a world dominated by brands, small producers can all too often be overlooked. Even those with the most fantastic products can fall through the cracks so it’s heartening when a genuinely great local product becomes a national success story. Kitchen Garden, based in Stroud, is one such story and has just celebrated 25 years of making jams, chutneys and other preserves.

It all began when Barbara Moinet cooked up a batch of blackberry and apple jam on her Cotswold kitchen stove back in 1989. As she juggled a growing family, this labour of love was a way to provide some extra income – little did she know just how fruitful her jam-making was going to turn out some 25 years later.

Today, Kitchen Garden makes a whopping 60 different products, including a range of mouth-wateringly good jams, marmalades, chutneys, mustards and relishes. The company has a loyal army of fans up and down the country, many of whom have been slathering Barbara’s blackberry and apple jam on their crumpets since those early days.

But success hasn’t changed Kitchen Garden: Barbara still gently guides the company according to her founding principles. Despite growing demand, production methods remain the same – yes, the pans may have increased in size from nine to 150 litres, but the products are all still made by hand using ingredients of the finest quality. It’s this passion for her products and commitment to her customers that has earned Kitchen Garden an incredible 44 awards over the years.

There’s been a big revival in jam-making in recent years which has only helped to make Kitchen Garden such a huge hit, particularly in our household. While I may dream about collecting surplus plums or gathering blackberries with my children, boiling them up on the stove and creating wonderfully nostalgic jars of jams and chutneys, the reality is I don’t have the time or the inclination. But nothing beats that homemade touch – I want jam just like my grandmother used to make every summer, sweet and syrupy and swollen with fruit; I want to be blown away by the smell of sweetened fruit or subtle spices every time I unscrew a jam jar lid. I want to be able to have my jam and eat it, whenever and wherever I feel like it. Kitchen Garden makes all this possible.

Personally, I‘m a huge fan of their strawberry jam and believe me when I say I wouldn’t want to put anything else on my toast (apologies Grandma Warner!). Huge lumps of strawberries mingled with the most exquisitely sweet and fruity syrup – it’s the sort of wholesome, no nonsense stuff that would win best in class at any WI meeting.

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I also love the Tewkesbury Mustard, a creamy blend of mustard and horseradish, which is an absolute must during BBQ season – try it loaded onto a hot dog or a slab of flame-grilled steak and you’ll thank me forever.

Finally, I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t let you in on my secret ingredient for the perfect gravy – a spoonful of Kitchen Garden’s Caramelised Onions with Red Wine added to the meat juices is a game- changer. Try it – you’ll never look back!