Lemon Drop Chilli Jam is on Fire!

Our super hot single variety Lemon Drop Chilli Jam has been getting a lot of love recently from winning two stars at the Great Taste Awards and the Fresh Discovery Award at the Speciality and Fine Food Fair. So I thought this blog should be dedicated to this awarding winning jam. 

If you have yet to try it, you maybe wondering what is all the fuss about Lemon Drop Chilli Jam?

Lemon Drop Chilli Jam is actually the newest member of our chilli jam range. We began with the Anaheim Chilli Jam and Jalapeño Jam and then we started to get requests from customers for a really hot jam, so we knew we needed a third flavour. We wanted this new chilli jam to not only be very hot, but also have lots of flavour and be unique. On top of that, we wanted it to be yellow to look different to the other two.

Lemon Drop Chillies

When we discovered the lemon drop chilli, we knew it was going the be the perfect addition to our chilli jam family. It is named lemon drop for its citrus flavour and bright yellow appearance. Originating in Peru, where it is known as qillu uchu, it has a unique lemon flavour, with an intense heat, which mellows to leave you with a warming sensation.

And when made into a jam we believe it is super versatile. Izzy in the Single Variety Co team tries out our jams in lots of different ways and particularly loves experimenting with the Lemon Drop Chilli Jam. Not only that, she is great with the iPhone camera and takes some amazing photos of her creations!

We get a lot of enquiries about what to use our chilli jams with, so I have asked Izzy to share her top Lemon Drop Chilli Jam ideas to get you started.

Firstly, if you’re looking for something simple, then Lemon Drop Chilli Jam can make a delicious condiment for your meal, for example quiche and salad. Alternatively it can be simply glazed onto meat before serving, or Izzy’s particular favourite is on grilled corn on the cob. 

If you’re looking for something a bit different and are feeling inspired to get baking now that GBBO is back on TV, then do try out Izzy’s Lemon Drop Chilli Cake on our website. It is a traditional lemon cake with a warming twist - you just decide how warming you want it to be!

And finally, if you want something to wash it all down with, then you must try out Izzy’s super simple lemon-chillo - a fiery twist on limoncello. You can make it as sweet, boozy or spicy as you like!

Lemon Drop Chilli Lemonchillo

Lemon-Chillo
What you need

300 ml vodka

75ml water

Juice of 4 lemons 

Zest of 2 lemons

50g icing sugar (or to taste) 

3 tsp Lemon Drop Chilli jam (or to taste) 

Funnel and empty bottle 


What to do

Pour the water and lemon juice into a medium size saucepan and grate in the lemon zest. Simmer gently and add in the icing sugar a little at a time. The consistency at this point should be syrupy. Mix in the jam a teaspoon at a time and remember to taste as you go! Next, take the saucepan off the heat and mix in all of the vodka. Sieve the mixture into a bowl first, to ensure all the bits are removed, and then funnel into your empty bottle. Place in the freezer 20 mins before enjoying!

For more jam inspiration check out our recipes on our website and also follow us on Instagram.

Much jam love,

Kate x

How to Exhibit at a Trade Show

It was exactly one year ago that Nicola embarked on exhibiting her chilli jams and fruit preserves at her very first trade show, Speciality and Fine Food Fair. Fast forward a year and we were there again at the same trade show, exhibiting for the second time, having showcased Single Variety Co at a number of shows along the way.

Single Variety Co Trade Show

However, this week was my first ever trade show. I was with Nicola at the show in Olympia last Monday and I really wanted to understand how on earth, as a small business, do you go about exhibiting at one of this huge events?

I quickly learned that the recipe to a successful trade show is:

  • visually design the stand

  • budget well

  • have a clear strategy

  • plan plan plan

First things first, get a vision for your stand. Spending time working out how you want your stand to look visually is so important. After all, your stand is that initial connection with potential customers, so being clear on how you want it to look, how it ties in with your brand and how it will best showcase your products is vital. Going to other trade shows to get inspiration is a great starting point for this. Nicola went to shows that featured non-food as well as food, such as Spirit of Christmas Fair to gain inspiration. She took lots of photos along the way which meant she had references when designing the stand.


When it comes to budgeting, not spending too much on the first one really helps in the long run. As tempting as it may be to get carried away, costs really add up quickly, so it’s best to stick to budget! Buying furniture from Ikea or eBay helped us to keep costs low.

 Our stand at our first Speciality Fair in 2017

Our stand at our first Speciality Fair in 2017

Nicola soon learned from her first trade show that she wanted to change it for the next one. She then spent time analysing what did and didn't work for her, and spent the next few trade shows tweaking and refining the stand. And we now have a stand design that works for us! 

When we got to this stage, Nicola invested into the stand and got someone to design and build it for us. This someone is the lovely Bruno from Standbuilder, who not only designs the Single Variety Co stand, him and his team assemble and disassemble the stand at each show we go to. It takes an incredibly long time to do this yourself, so being able to have someone take responsibility for this is a huge weight off your shoulders when preparing for (and recovering from!) a trade show. We soon learned that always booking the same shape stand at each show meant that we can reuse the same display which helps manage costs.


Building a strategy for a show helps to make the most out of your time there. Being clear on who you are targeting e.g. big vs. small retailers, whether or not you want to export, and knowing your prices and capabilities, means that you target the right customers for you.


And finally, plan plan plan! Being super organised and managing logistics down to a fine detail makes such a difference to how well the show goes. 


So our top tips of things to take to a trade show are:

  • Phone charging pack (most shows charge extra for electricity)

  • Notebook, pen and stapler (for business cards of new contacts and to write notes to follow up with them on) 

  • Water (it’s amazing how thirsty you get talking to lots of people)

  • Your lunch (it’s really difficult to leave your stand for long and often the food available to exhibitors is expensive)

  • A friendly face (make friends with your neighbours at the show)

  • Help (don’t do it all on your own! The stands are small so 2 people will be plenty).

  • Samples for tasting at the stand (plus things to sample with)

  • Business cards

Also, if you’re thinking of doing a trade show, visit the year before to make sure it’s the right customer for you. There are a lot of trade shows out there and you can’t go to them all!


We had a great time at this years Speciality and Fine Food Fair, meeting up with current customers as well as making new contacts and hopefully some new customers! On top of that, our Lemon Drop Chilli Jam won the Fresh Discovery Award at this years show! Thank you to everyone who voted for us. Not only are we super proud to add this to our awards collection, we’re busy deciding when we’re going to crack open the massive bottle of champagne to celebrate!!

Fresh Discovery Award Winnder

Much jam love, 

Kate





Anaheim Chilli Jam- growing pains

If someone asks me what my favourite Single Variety Co jam is, it’s like asking someone to choose between their children.  It’s easy for me - I only have one child, so he’s definitely my favourite. But when it comes to choosing my favourite out of our range of amazing jams? Well, I have had a really long think about it for the purposes of this blog and I’ve managed to get it down to my top 3, which I based on the following categories:

    1.    Favourite sweet chilli jam

    2.    Favourite fruit preserve

    3.    Favourite seasonal preserve

And today I’m going to talk to you about the trials and tribulations of my favourite chilli jam, Anaheim (my love for the Anaheim Chilli Jam is so strong, that I have temporarily turned green fingered this year and I am growing some in my garden!).

To give you a bit of background to this mild, sweet chilli, Anaheim chillies originate in Anaheim, Southern California after a farmer named Emilio Ortega brought the seeds from New Mexico to Anaheim in 1894. Anaheim chillies are consequently a milder variety of the New Mexico chilli pepper.

Anaheim Chillies

We discovered the Anaheim chilli when working with one of our UK farmers to identify a great tasting, mild, red chilli for our range of chilli jams. As soon as we tasted it, we wanted it, as the jam it made was so delicious. However, at the time we didn't appreciate how challenging it would be to grow it here in the UK.

Anaheim chillies prefer warm to hot and dry climates with long days and cool nights for optimal growing conditions. They are grown throughout Southern California and New Mexico in abundance and available all year round. 

 map of california - caption for Nicola’s benefit as she is so terrible at geography

map of california - caption for Nicola’s benefit as she is so terrible at geography

Unfortunately in the UK we do not have the ideal growing climate. Yes, we’ve had an amazing summer this year with long, glorious hours of sunshine, but when the chillies are sown, it is in the middle of our winter and the crop really struggles in the initial growing phase from seed - seedling - plant, as well as during the ripening phase as we see daylight hours reduce and temperatures drop. The UK season is therefore later in the year and also much shorter.  This means that we have struggled so far this year to source the volumes we need to produce our stock.

Anaheim Chilli

So what are we doing next? We are genuinely doing our best to get this beautifully mild, sweet and flavourful chilli jam back in the kitchen and available to you all. We have explored many avenues, including trials with new farmers to increase volumes, and importing the crop from America, but these haven’t been successful.

Looking to the year ahead, we’re going to be testing other mild, red, delicious chilli varieties that can allow us to have a product that is available all year round. We’d absolutely hate to lose the Anaheim, but we also do not want disappointed customers, so we feel we need an alternative.

We know that we have a lot of people out there - stockists and customers - who are big fans of the Anaheim Chilli Jam and eager to get their hands on it. We’d like to thank all of you for being so patient and understanding. We are starting to get some Anaheim’s  in the kitchen but the volumes are still low, so please continue to bear with us.  Click here to buy online once it is back in stock- we'll keep you updated on our social media feeds on instagram, twitter and facebook.

Much jam love,

Kate x

 

How to make a Winning Video in 36 hours

When you talk to people who own or work for a small business they will always tell you that no day is the same, you turn your hand to everything and you learn things you never knew you would or could!  Well, here at Single Variety Co we have recently added “video making” to our skill set. 

If we wind back to late June, Nicola suddenly announced to Izzy and I that the following day we would be making a video as we are entering the Small Biz 100 awards, but we only had 36 hours until the deadline. Our initial reaction was “wow this is really exciting”, then “can we get this done in time?”, followed by “how on earth do you actually make a video?!”. 

Small Business Saturday

So how do you make a video with no budget or having never made a video before? Firstly SmallBiz100 had an amazing help video which helped us out. The key things we took away were:

  1. Keeping the style of video simple and talking straight to the camera offers great engagement to the audience.
  2. Interviewing members of your team or customers allows what others feel about your brand to come across in the video.
  3. Including “cutaways”, which are shots of your product weaved into the video, really shows off what your small business is.
  4. Overlay your video with some music. There is a great free service on www.youtube.com/audiolibrary and make sure you don’t use anything that has a copyright! 
  5. Editing isn’t as daunting as it sounds. There are many free tools out there to edit your video. You just need to be clear on your story.
  6. When you upload your video on Youtube really consider your title, description and tags.
  7. Finally, share your video on all your social media platforms so people can easily see it.

Taking all of this on board, Nicola made a plan. She started with creating the story for the video so we knew what we needed to film the following day. She wanted to get across what we do as a business and ensure the whole team was featured. On top of this she wanted to show all the other small businesses that we work with, from who we buy from to who we supply to.  After a few quick phone calls, some of our brilliant small businesses came to our rescue and made a short video to be included. A huge thank you to you all!  (Go check out A Pie Party and Nuvola Bakery, both DELICIOUS)

Single Variety Co Customers

The following day we set to the next task in hand - film our content. Fortunately the weather was beautiful and sunny, so we decided that it would be a great idea to film as much outside as possible! We divided up the roles and embarked on filming our very first video. Izzy, with an eye for detail and artistic talent, was on iPhone camera duty, I was auto-cue writer / holder upper as well as selecting the filming locations and making sure we sounded great on camera, and Nicola was the main presenter (as well as having to subtly hold up the Single Variety Co sign with her shoulder whilst being filmed). 

 This sign is not actually attached to the wall, subtle shoulder support.

This sign is not actually attached to the wall, subtle shoulder support.

We had a few trial runs, which included the top of heads being cut off the camera, a thumb over the camera lens and auto-cue paper being blown away in the wind mid videoing, before we finally got the hang of what we were doing. I know these sound made up (I wish they were), but they all happened, and after a few takes and even more giggles along the way, we cracked it! Filming was complete, so Izzy and I got back in the kitchen to make some jam. Nicola, on the other hand, needed to learn how to make a video. This is where Google, Youtube and having iMovies really helped. There are tons of videos online which made the process a lot easier, and as the SmallBiz100 help video suggested, a lot less daunting.

imovie editing

With all this online support at her fingertips, Nicola’s evening was spent creating the final video, which involved all of the editing, adding in “cutaways” (which fortunately we already had some beautiful photos which we could use) and finding music to overlay.

With hours to spare our video was complete and uploaded onto Youtube for the judges to assess and for you all to see too...

Not only that, we won! 

We’re super proud that from creating our first ever video, Single Variety Co has been chosen from thousands of small businesses to be a SmallBiz100 for 2018. If you’re not sure what SmallBiz100 is and want to know more then have a look here for further info. 

Please keep your eyes peeled on 24th September 2018 as Single Variety Co will be showcased by Small Business Saturday via their media campaigns. On top of that, we will be running a special one day promotion on our website to celebrate with all our customers.  Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to be kept in the loop.

Much jam love,

Kate x