I've just got back from a fascinating and very successful trip to Moscow. SuperJam is now on sale in its 6th international market!!
As well as visiting various very upmarket supermarkets and independent stores in this megacity of over 10m inhabitants, I was invited to share the story of my adventures in jam at four events for young entrepreneurs and students from the city's universities.
We'll soon be launching a Russian version of our website and I am looking forward to another trip to Russia next year - i'm really excited about the future of SuperJam in Moscow and beyond..
In the UK, over 1m young people are out of work. It is a real tragedy and I really feel for the kids who are finding it hard to find a job. I've been lucky enough to make a career out of something that I love, by starting a business.
I was very kindly invited along to share my story on Richard Bacon's "Up For Hire Live" on BBC 3 last week. You can see the whole show here.
I really believe that anyone can start a business - The SuperJam Story shows that it is possible to make a living from something that you love and that you can make something as ordinary as jam into something extraordinary!
I was recently invited to Helsinki and Porvoo in Finland, for the launch of SuperJam in the very beautiful Anton&Anton stores.
As well as sharing my story with students at some of the local universities, we had a tea party in one of their Helsinki stores. SuperJam has been flying off the shelves and we're now getting ready to launch a Finnish language version of our website, as well as having our first SuperJam Tea Party for the elderly in Helsinki.
I'll be back over visiting in the New Year and look forward to seeing SuperJam on the shelves of even more stores in Finland!
Brilliant food blogger Marie Rayner has just tested out our jams in her own ‘flaky jam rolls’ recipe.
We've decided to put the recipe up on our blog, so that all SuperJam lovers can try it out..! Happy cooking!
You can find Marie's whole blog-post and further recipe details here.
It’s about to be Halloween, so we were thinking of the goriest-named jammy pudding we could give you guys the recipe for. After a bit of Googling, we realised that there are some pretty disgustingly-named dishes out there... ‘Dead Baby’ was up there, as was the legendary ‘Spotted Dick’ and ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’. I suppose if you tell your guests you’re serving them one of those dishes, you can be sure to get a positive/relieved response when you bring the finished product to the table. A bit of a twisted way of getting a ‘thumbs up’, but hey!
Anyway, we were a little shocked to discover that even ‘rice pudding and jam’ – that innocent, comforting, milky pudding we all know and love – has a pseudonym. By many people, rice pudding and jam is referred to as ‘Accident in the Alps’. It’s quite ingenious actually, but also a little bit disgusting when you think about it.
Since rice pudding is the perfect, warming comfort food to salivate over at the end of one of these long, wintery days, and probably the easiest pudding that one can possibly make (always appealing!), we decided that that should be our winning Halloween recipe.
The problem is, we don’t want to call it ‘Accident in the Alps’, because that’d just be unoriginal. Instead, this one is called ‘Snowman Massacre’ (almost christened ‘Abominable Snowman Suicide’, but changed names at last minute). If you can think of any more wacky/wonderful/gory nicknames for traditional old ‘rice pudding and jam’ let us know... But in the meantime, give this spookified recipe a go:
Snowman Massacre (serves 3-4)
100g short-grain pudding rice
1 pint of full-fat milk
450ml double cream
1tsp vanilla extract
75g caster sugar
25g butter (plus extra for greating)
A little grated nutmeg
A big-fat jar of your favourite SuperJam, or your own home-made jam. (Please note: a red jam would be best, if you’re taking the ‘massacre’ element of this recipe seriously).
* * *
How to make it:
1) Preheat the oven to 180 ͦ
2) Grease an oven-proof dish (roughly 2-3 pints in size).
3) Rinse the rice in cold water, through a sieve.
4) Pour the milk, cream and vanilla extract into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the rice and sugar, and stir.
5) Pour the contents of the pan into the buttered oven-proof dish and grate some nutmeg over the top. Dot the rice pudding with small knobs of butter.
6) Bake the pudding for 15 minutes at 180 ͦ. Then lower the temperature to 150 ͦ, and bake for a further 1¼ hours. It should be golden brown on top, and very creamy beneath.
7) Serve with a spoonful of jam in the centre of each bowl, melting into the creamy pudding. Et volia: you have a big fat Snowman Massacre!!
We’re now approaching the end of prime foraging time. Fruit is bountifully falling off trees and bushes across the UK, and (try as we might) we are unable to eat it all at the rate it’s ripening. That’s a pretty distressing realisation, what with it all being (drum roll, please...) entirely FREE. Free food going to waste, rotting into the ground? That’s a sin.
And this is where jam-making rears its beautiful head...
What better thing to do with a whole heap of sweet, British fruit than make it into a gorgeous batch of jam?! Even if you’re not craving jam right now, it will be there for you for the rest of the year, keeping you warm and happy throughout the winter months, melting onto hot, buttery crumpets and freshly baked scones. And it will be HOME-MADE.
There’s something sensational about home-made produce. I don’t know why, but people are incredibly impressed when you’ve baked your own cake, made your own load of fudge, concocted your own elderflower cordial, or cooked your own jam. You become a bit deified actually, because there’s this big fallacy linked with cooking: that it’s always hard, and that when it’s done well, the cook deserves to be hailed.
We should all really be taking advantage of this, especially when it comes to jam-making. Because let’s face facts, it’s not an expensive process, and the time: yield ratio is pretty damn brilliant. If you’re then congratulated and praised for ‘making your own’ on top of all that...why then there’s no excuse not to!
The problem is, the whole prospect of jam-making can seem pretty daunting – like going into battle. Big pans of bubbling liquids; bursting fruit which will invariably dye anything that it touches; and regimented, sterilised jars lined up on the work surface. The thing is, like so many things in life, it’s actually really easy. You just need to follow a recipe!
So just to get you doing a bit of foraging, we’re giving you the recipe for an excitingly seasonal ‘Sloe and Apple Jelly’. Sloes are all over the bushes at the moment (we had to wait for the first frost to ripen them, but we’ve certainly had that now!), and apples are undoubtedly all over your grass. If you’re not based in a rural area, however, then you just need to sneak over to your nearest patch of countryside and ‘rescue’ a basketful of fruit (maybe ask the owner first though, and give them a jar of jam as payment...)!
Jellies are a little more complex than jams because they need straining, but that’s it really – you just need to get hold of a jelly bag (or just a muslin...or even a pair of ladies’ stockings if you’re desperate!) and you’re all set.
So here goes:
- 1800g cooking apples
- 900g sloes (rinsed)
- About 2 pints water (judge this when in pan)
- Roughly 1500g granulated sugar (measured according to the volume of juice produced by the fruit). At SuperJam, we make our 100% fruit jams with natural grape juice instead of sugar, but in this case sugar makes the recipe a bit easier to handle...
- Preserving pan
- Jelly bag and stand
- A little set-testing plate
- 6-7 sterilised jars (washed thoroughly and placed in the oven to keep warm) with lids (boiled for a few minutes to sterilise, and then placed in the warm oven with the jars).
How To Make It:
1) Wash and cut up the apples – don’t bother peeling or coring them (unless there are bad bits on/in them of course!)
2) Put the apples into a big preserving pan with the sloes, and add roughly 2 pints of water (enough water to just cover the fruit). Simmer on a low heat until the fruit has all softened and formed a juicy pulp.
3) Pour the pulp into a jelly bag and leave to strain for about 3 hours, until it has all dripped through (or just leave it to drip overnight, and continue to make the jelly in the morning!). Don’t squeeze the liquid through the jelly bag, or the finished jelly won’t end up being nice and clear – if you do suddenly get possessed and impulsively squeeze it, you may want to re-strain the liquid.
4) Once all the juice has been strained, measure its volume, and measure out the sugar needed, allowing 450g of sugar to each pint of juice.
5) Now warm the measured sugar through slightly in a bowl in a warm oven, or just spread it out on a baking tray in that same oven for 5-10 minutes. Warming the sugar makes the jelly-making process faster, allowing you to cook the fruit for a shorter length of time, which means the finished product tastes much more fruity.
6) Put a little plate in the freezer (or fridge if you’re scared it’s going to crack)...this will be used later for testing the jelly’s set.
7) Place the strained juice and the warmed sugar into a cleaned preserving pan, cook over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, and then bring to a rolling boil for about a minute.
8) Take the boiling jelly off the heat, remove the plate from the freezer, and place a tiny blob of jelly on it. The hot jelly will quickly cool, and in order to test whether it has reached its set, simply push it and check if it wrinkles (not just slightly, but in quite a defined way). If it doesn’t wrinkle, return the pan to the boil for another minute, put the cleaned plate back in the freezer, and test again after another minute. Tip: putting two plates in the freezer and using them in continuous succession can help you to catch the set even more accurately.
9) As soon as the jelly reaches its set, pour it into your sterilised jam jars (using a funnel can make this less messy). Quickly put a circle of greaseproof paper on top of each jelly (optional), and balance the lid on top of the jar (don’t do this up totally until the jelly has cooled).
10) Label the jars and stash them away for the winter months, or for brilliant, much-sought-after presents! Sloe and Apple Jelly is pretty versatile: it goes beautifully on sweet crumpets or toast, or equally well with savoury foods like pork or cheese.
1) dolloped into a humongous bowl of comforting porridge
2) spread onto a hot, buttery crumpet
3) splodged into the centre of a bowl of steaming rice pudding
4) baked into beautifully hot jam tarts
5) swirled into the appley base of a crumble (for added colour and excitement)
6) piled onto a freshly baked scone with a large cloud of clotted cream
7) melted and poured over ice cream
8) smeared between two chocolate digestives (DIY jammy-chocolatey dodger)
9) stirred through a bowl of creamy yoghurt and granola
10) sneakily eaten off the spoon (and jar subtly returned to fridge)
What're your super-quick, super-tasty ways of eating SuperJam?? Let us know!
This week, I was invited to share 'The Adventures of Jam Boy' speech at the Hello Etsy summit on 'small business and sustainability', which was run by my amazing and inspiring friends over at Etsy.com. They're the world's biggest marketplace for handmade goods - you can buy some absolutely amazing things direct from the people who made them, with their own hands.
As well as getting to hang out with 500 artists and crafters in one of the coolest cities in the world for a weekend, I got to hear speeches from some of the world's foremost thinkers around the topics of small business and sustainability. Particular highlights for me (which I recommend you watch online by following the links) were Charles Festa of Threadless.com and Judy Wicks of the White Dog Cafe.
I also got the chance to share my story and you can watch the video of my speech here.
As part of SuperJam's arrival in Australia, I was very kindly invited to share my story with the viewers of Sunrise - Australia's No. 1 TV show.
David Koch ('Koshie') was super supportive of my story - he is all about entrepreneurship and new businesses - and he said that my book, SuperBusiness should be your 'Bible' if you're trying to get your idea off the ground.
You can see the whole interview here.
This week has been amazing - I've come over to Sydney to launch SuperJam Down Under!
We're working with a local company called Honest to Goodness to get the products out there and have already signed up a whole bunch of stores across the country to stock the range.
We're exhibiting at the Fine Foods Sydney Expo and i'll also be sharing my story on the TV and radio all week...