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


New Covent Garden Market

While I'm waiting to buy my fruit from our local UK farmers (hurry up sun and get those berries ready!) I've been buying from New Covent Garden Market.   This also enables me to get hold of the more exotic fruits that don't grow here- blog post on passionfruit coming up soon!  I thought I'd share with you my experience of the market.  

Fun Facts:

  • New Covent Garden Market is the UK's leading wholesale market for fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • It's actually in Vauxhall!
  • A whopping 40% of London's fruit and veg eaten outside of the home comes from the market
  • Over 350 varieties of fruit and veg are available- plenty to keep me jamming!
  • and my (least) favourite- the market is open to buyers between midnight (!) and 6am.

So I was pretty daunted for the first visit but luckily they have a fantastic website  which explains everything you could want to know.  Upon parking up you visit the buyers walk (make sure you check the map as we got totally lost on first visit).  The walk is a long wide corridor with traders either side- each one with huge displays of all the fruit and veg they have on offer that night.  

a trader on the buyers walk

a trader on the buyers walk

All the produce is bought by the tray/box- you make your order and pay at each individual traders counter.  Once you've paid for everything it will be collected together and put out on the loading bay for you to drive round and collect.  And in my case ask nicely to have everything fork lift trucked to the car.

the loading bay- collect your goods here.  And avoid the lorries!

the loading bay- collect your goods here.  And avoid the lorries!

And then drive home to bed!  It's as simple as that.   I'm really enjoying visiting the market, and it's interesting to see the difference in produce offered week to week, helping to understand what is in season each month.