Sunday, 4 September 2011

Making preserves for other people

Its only a few weeks, since I got this urge to share my preserves. The reason is that I love researching, the process of preserving food, and later bringing something out of the cupboard that will transform the ordinary into something special.....but one can only eat so much, and store so much. I've written about my forays into the preserving world on my other blog, so dip in there if you want any back history.

With years of prize winning entries, not all the cards are in the picture here, and giving of jars to family and friends, it occurred to me to investigate selling my produce locally. I've researched outlets looking at prices and packaging, and am trying out selling through a local artisan bakery.

I've spent quite a lot of time costing the jars of preserves, considering what to put onto the scales:

Cost of jars: this comes in at between 70p for the 12 oz size to 42p for the 4 oz size. This just shows how much packaging costs. However I would love to have these jars returned and reused which fulfills my recycling ethos. For the club, I think I would offer 30 p against the next item, as I would need to use new lids.

Cost of fruit and veg: I decided to cost as if I bought at the market or supermarket, even though some of my fruit cost me nothing, I've spent time cycling and picking, and given cakes, bread and other items in exchange. After all it would be unfair to compete with other people who have to earn their living.

Time: I only put 2 hours at £5.00 an hour for each batch....if I start making jam just for love, then I would go back to before and just give a few away to friends, to club tables for their sale etc., and hey I'll still be doing that anyway with my stash!

Spices and sugar and vinegar: at cost

I was astounded at what the prices came out at.....jam and preserves at supermarkets is so much cheaper. Its a good job mine is the 'best'!

When I popped into Crustum, I was really pleased to see that Nick is really busy and his bread is selling well, but that also means that he has not had time to promote my jam. It is positioned low down, and his mark up brings the preserves to the prices asked for in 'tourist outlets'. I'll give him a couple of weeks to see what moves.

It occurred to me whilst I was in 'the zone' chopping that what I really would like is a small band of jam, chutney and preserve loving people, about 10 to 12, to join as a club. I would rather make only one or two batches for an appreciative few. Each month or so I would offer a preserve, chutney or mustard. I am thinking 12 oz or 8 oz size jar for jam, 8 oz for preserve and 4 oz for mustard.....

In my own little brainstorming way I am thinking of main tenets and concepts:

As much as possible of locally grown produce: donated, foraged, or bought at the market...reducing miles and packaging as much as possible.

Top quality produce, for example when using dried fruits, only those with no preservatives, using cider vinegar only.

Return of jam jars encouraged, with credit given against next item.

Seeking 'sponsors' for special batches, ie someone asks for a specific recipe, or asks me to research one for them, and commits to take on x no of jars. For example a chutney without garlic or a special family favourite.

If someone offers the majority of the fruit/vegetable components, then in addition to their 'club' jar, they get an extra one free.

Finding local people, or friends of local people for the group, so that they can collect or I can deliver.

Everyone ends up trumps: I get to create preserves, and members get regular locally hand made quality preserves at the best possible cost.

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