Written by Sarah Roy, The Jam Lady
How did it all begin? Well, once my movie career dried up and the offers of modelling work stopped, I looked for new avenues. I woke in the night with a flash of inspiration. That flash was …. JAM.
Actually, I’ve enjoyed baking, cooking and all things culinary since I was young. The youngest of four with three older brothers, I spent a lot of time with my mum in the kitchen and the garden. We went for long August walks, picking (and eating) blackberries. I’d help make jam when we returned home with purple-stained fingers and face. As I got older, baking on a Sunday afternoon, I’d be talking into the imaginary TV camera that was our kitchen window. I was destined to become a spokesperson for Jam!
The Jam Lady idea developed after asking on Facebook if anyone local had gluts of fruit in their garden. Jam making had become a hobby and I was happy to share whatever I made with the donor. It didn’t take long for people to start asking if I sold the jams. I registered with Reading Borough Council as a home food producer and started to fill jars. Selling at local fetes, fairs and markets, I started to use social media to get the Jam word out there.
After a brief hiatus where I had to stop jam making for a while, I relaunched in Autumn 2018. In the run up to Christmas, I couldn’t make enough! I then started to get requests from bakeries and cafes for them to stock my jars. That’s when The MERL got in touch.
As a fully paid-up member of the Reading Twitterati, I was very aware of The MERL’s social media triumphs. Supporting small, local food producers, crafters and artists has always been part of The MERL’s remit so I was super-happy as a small-batch local producer to see my jars for sale alongside other amazing products in their shop.
But there’s more. When I told a friend that The MERL were going to be stocking my jars, Pete cheekily suggested I should make a mint jelly to serve with their Absolute Unit. The MERL loved the idea, and now it’s been brought to life. My Absolute Unit Mint Jelly is made exclusively for The MERL and can only be bought in their gift shop. So very exciting!
I still use fruit donated by local gardeners and allotment holders whenever possible, and always say ‘thank you’ with a jar of whatever I make from it. (Contact me via social media if you have a glut of produce!) But when I’m asked by customers what my favourite flavour is, I always reply blackberry. It reminds me of my childhood and those long summer days with my mum, picking (and eating) blackberries and going home with purple fingers. It’s important to me to keep these memories and skills alive. Another reason The MERL and The Jam Lady are such a perfect fit! I’m even hoping to find some recipes in their archive and library soon.
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