In case you didn’t already know our dedicated team of jam makers hand prep everything we make. Some of it can be rather labour intensive but should go some way to explaining how much love and effort we put into every single jar. Your amazing and positive feedback reminds and reassures us that it’s all very worthwhile!
As far as making chilli jams the team’s favourite one to make is our Fireflame Chilli Jam. Let me tell you why and talk you through the creation of our beautiful, red, mildly spicy and award winning sweet chilli jam.
Firstly we have the chillies delivered to us straight from the farm. We then set about prepping every one by hand. Quite simply you just snap the green stalk off – it’s just that we need quite a few! Every jar contains over 30% Fireflame chillies, a lot more than many other chilli jams or relishes. We wash the chillies to remove any dust, dirt or leaves from the chilli farm. We then add apple cider vinegar – without this vital addition the jam would be too sweet. You wouldn’t believe how many different vinegars I had to taste test before I found the perfect one to use in our jam!
With the chillies and vinegar now in the jam kettle, we blend and blitz, then add sugar and natural pectin in order to achieve the perfect set. We prefer all our flavours to be softer set than traditional jams. This is because adding more pectin or cooking it for longer (to achieve a firmer set) causes the fresh flavour we love to be lost.
Every product we make has a different temperature it must reach to achieve the desired set. It’s quite complicated this jam cooking!
When we cook any of the chilli jams the air in the kitchen becomes filled with tiny particles of chilli. It’s pretty harsh on the airways, eyes and nostrils. It’s why the team prefers cooking Fireflame over Jalapeno or Lemon Drop as it’s a milder chilli. It’s also the reason they wear industrial gas masks when doing it!
Once the jam is ready we quickly start to jar up. To ensure that the jam is sterilised we can’t allow the temperature to drop under 75°C so we must move fast. You’ll be happy to hear the team are lightning at jarring and lidding! We have person number one using the foot pedal operated depositor as they place a new jar under each time. This then gets passed to person number two who then hand lids it and places it in trays ready for the next stage. We can lid around 440 jars in 30 minutes! We’re not big enough to have fancy and expensive machines to do all of this. Which again shows how dedicated we are and so very proud to be making a truly premium product in small batches by hand. While this is going on person number three will be getting the next batch on. We try to be as efficient as we can, and we are improving all the time.
This batch will cool over the next 12-24 hours and you can hear the lids popping to secure the seal. This is the jam cooling and pulling down the ‘popper’ on the lid. If you find a jar that has ‘popped’ it hasn’t been sealed properly and it will likely at some point grow mould (hopefully this should never be the case as we triple check all our jars: at production, at labelling and again at dispatch).
Our jars are now ready to label. We have a labelling machine that needs at least two pairs of hands. Person number one loads the jars on to the mini conveyer belt, they then whizz through the machine which puts our label on and out the other end where person two places them in trays for online orders or cases of six for our wholesale customers. The labeller was a costly addition to our jam factory but an essential one – it can label 80 jars per minute if needed! That’s much, much quicker than when I used to label each jar myself by hand.
And there it is! By the afternoon of day two your Fireflame Chilli Jam is ready to go out the door. We don’t make lots of stock at once and we don’t keep too much in storage. Ever found an old jar in your cupboard? Wondering why your strawberry or raspberry jam is a murky brown colour? It’s because they all fade over time. Our jams are the bright vibrant colour they are partly because we cook them for as little a time as possible but also because we like to get them to you as soon as possible. Who knew jam could be fresh too eh??
Enjoy! And don’t forget to tell us how you best enjoy our Fireflame Chilli Jam!