Elspeth
Elspeth2
Our Head Chef pressing muslin bags for Jelly

Our Philosophy

"Preserve making has a long and distinguished past and we are very proud to be part of that tradition. Over the years developing time honoured skills, by practising authentic techniques and reproducing traditional recipes, has become a special part of what we do."

Elspeth Biltoft, Founder & Director

Sourcing

Taking care to use fresh, flavoursome ingredients, by gathering or buying in season, is an important part of our philosophy. Over the years we have developed relationships with suppliers who care as much as we do. We have sought English growers, locally and from further afield, with knowledge and passion for their produce – freshly grown herbs from the Vale of York, new season rhubarb, tangy but delicate, from the West Yorkshire ‘triangle’ and dark fleshed damsons from an old orchard in the Lyth Valley, Cumbria.

Every January our kitchen is filled with the scent of fresh Seville oranges, the most traditional and arguably the best of fruits for making marmalade. We have bought these from the same organically certified Spanish orchard since 1990, confident of their assured quality.

Gathering from the wild holds a particular place in our affection and allows us to offer English products with a long tradition, which might otherwise be forgotten or overlooked. There are wild elderflowers picked by ourselves to perfume gooseberry jam in June and scarlet rowanberries, the fruit of the Mountain Ash, from a local plantation in Wensleydale. In combination with English Bramley apples they make a carnelian coloured jelly that pairs perfectly with venison and winter game.

Towards the end of the preserving year, we check wild crabapple trees once a week in September, to make sure we are there when windy days blow the first ripe fruit to the ground. It is a pleasure to source seasonal fruit and vegetables at their most authentic and be rewarded with delicious preserves in return – simple, honest and full of robust flavour.

Tradition

Preserve making has a long and distinguished past and we are very proud to be part of that tradition. Over the years developing time honoured skills, by practising authentic techniques and reproducing traditional recipes, has become a special part of what we do. We have looked for once popular, but now less familiar fruit, to make a number of our preserves. For example, fragrant quinces for jelly, delicious Cambridge gage plums for jam and green walnuts, which after pickling, lend a very special flavour to a Beef or Venison casserole.

We love the honesty of traditional recipes, such as those for Piccalilli and Sweet Cucumber Pickle, where the ingredients list has changed very little since they first appeared in the 18th century. Their flavour-filled simplicity has stood the test of time.

Some of the techniques we use to create these pantry classics are as traditional as the preserves themselves. The fruits for our various jellies, using Bramley apples, wild crabapples, quInces and redcurrants, are gently cooked then stained through cotton cloths overnight. The next day we add unrefined cane sugar to the filtered juices then boil fast, relying on the natural properties of the fruit alone, to achieve a lovely jewel like set.

We are eager to help the glorious British traditions of fruit growing and preserve making to survive by continuing to search for specific fruit varieties, in our quest for improved flavour, and by practicing time honoured techniques in order to create many of our favourite recipes.

Quality

In 1989 the first of our founding principles was to make preserves of the highest quality and that remains at the heart of what we do today. All aspects of our preserve making are given careful consideration as we strive for perfection at every stage. From the detailed development of the first sample including taste, colour and consistency, through controlled production, to the choice and application of our classically designed label.

Each of our recipes includes quantities and methods designed to endorse quality and replicate the best of home cooking. Our pickling onions are prepared as soon as the grower has lifted and dried them – no later than October so that they can be enjoyed at their most desirable – small, crisp and sweet.

We have carefully developed a warmly spiced and piquant vinegar to preserve them for the months ahead. Bramley apples, destined for any number of preserves, are peeled and cored by hand to ensure their vibrant freshness. Locally gathered herbs including Mint and Rosemary are stripped from their stalks and captured in fruit jellies where their characteristic oils and unique flavours are at their most potent.

The quality of our products is defined by all of the following – careful sourcing, generous quantities, simple balanced recipes, no additives, preservatives or even pectin, natural sets dependent on the properties of fruit alone, unrefined cane sugars and skilful cooking.

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