It is an activity usually associated with the Women’s Institute and country fairs, but for one Huthwaite couple, jam and marmalade making has become a budding business venture.
After packing in their jobs as an HGV driver and in the NHS following family bereavements, Robert and Lindsey Irving were looking for something new to occupy their time.
“We wanted to keep working and didn’t know which way to go,” said Robert.
Both being keen cooks and enjoying tasting new flavours, the couple decided to have a go at making their own marmalade one day last year and suddenly, the idea for a new business was born.
They started to research what they needed to do to set up officially from their house on Farnsworth Grove and then began cooking up batches of jams, marmalades, chutneys and curds, which they took around to friends and acquaintances for product testing.
“We asked anyone we knew locally,” said Lindsey.
“We just wanted feedback on what they thought, what the taste was like and if they would buy it.
“When we got the feedback we thought we had something that could work.”
Wooden Spoon Preserves was registered in November and the Irvings have been busy developing their products ever since. Their unique selling point is the unusual flavours of their preserves, such as pink grapefruit, ginger and peach schnapps marmalade or strawberry and champagne jam.
Said Lindsey: “Others seemed a bit boring and we thought, you can make marmalade with more less any citrus fruit so when we saw some pink grapefruit, we thought about what other flavours would go with it.”
“We just want to be a bit different from everybody else,” added Robert.
The ethos behind Wooden Spoon Preserves is producing top quality preserves using the freshest fruit and vegetables possible. They also have a higher fruit content than many rival products found on supermarket shelves.
“You really taste the difference of the fruit,” said Lindsey. “We always look for the very best quality ingredients because it does show through in the product at the end of the day.”
The couple cook up a batch of jam, marmalade or another preserve two or three days a week and also print off their own labels, make their own sales enquiries and do their own marketing using social networks such as Feacebook and Twitter.
Lindsey said it has all been a steep learning curve.
“We have had to learn it all from scratch and it is learning new technology as well.
“That has definitely helped though as people have found us through them - it’s creating that brand awareness for us,” she said.
The Irvings will be taking their products to produce and food fairs all around the region this summer having secured places at around 25 already, including prestigious events such as the Tideswell Food Festival. They are also hoping to finalise deals to have Wooden Spoon products sold on the local market in certain farm shops and tourist attractions.
And they could not be happier with how the business is developing. Lindsey said that they are both really enjoying themselves.
“It’s the creating of something that you can make from a basic set of raw ingredients and when you get to the end and taste it, you just think ‘wow!’,” she said.
Added Robert: “I never even used to like marmalade but now we do it ourselves it’s totally different. It is like heaven.”