Jam-maker Jen Williams foraging for ingredients
Meet Jen - award-winning jam connoisseur and founder of Naked Jam.

 

Specialising in delectable preserves that capture the essence of each fruit in every jar, the brand has gained a reputation for its exceptional quality and unique flavours. We had the pleasure of delving into Jen's jam-making journey and learning about her inspirations and foraging adventures in the New Forest.

 

  • Tell us about Naked Jam and what inspired you to start creating jams, marmalades and relishes.

My mum was my inspiration - a fabulous chef and a wonderful person. She taught me how to appreciate food, how to experiment with flavours and ingredients, how to create dishes that make people happy. She shared with me her cookbooks, her secrets, her passion. She showed me how to work with the seasons, how to forage for wild fruits, how to make the most of every meal. I owe her so much for my love of cooking and my joy of eating.

 

  • What does a typical day look like for you?

I love starting my day early. I have always been an early riser, so it's a blessing for me. And of course, I enjoy listening to the birdsong. I get up and water the garden (if it needs it!), then I go to work and open up the greenhouse. I check on my garden and the plants there and savour a cup of tea. After that, I visit the local farmers (New Forest Fruit) and pick up my ingredients for the day. Depending on the time of year, I also forage on the way. I'm currently foraging elderflowers to go into some of the preserves. Then it's cook, cook, cook all day. It's an absolute pleasure to be able to cook with the best ingredients grown by people who have become my friends over the years.

 

  • You forage your ingredients from the nearby New Forest or your own gardens. What are your favourite ingredients to grow or hunt for?

Such a difficult question, my favourite ingredients do change with the seasons. I am currently in love with elderflowers and wild mint. Both hold such fond memories for me and transport me back in time to when I was a small child making cordials with wild herbs. However, soon the gooseberries will appear - a special delight that takes careful picking with its huge thorns that I feel are like guardians of the fruit to try to stop you picking too many! Then, with the wild mint, it transforms into the most wonderful tasting jam, especially as the green gooseberries transform from this green goddess to a red zingy-tasting jam. It's a delight. However, ask me in a month and I'll be wild about wild strawberries and home-grown blackcurrants.

Jam-maker Jen Williams foraging for ingredients
Birdseye view of selection of jams from Naked Jam

 

 

  • What’s something surprising about your work, that other people might not realise?

That I use copper pans - they are my favourite tools for jam-making. They are gorgeous and effective. Copper pans have the highest heat conduction, which means I can reduce the cooking time and keep more flavour and texture of the fruit. Some people might assume I need large pots and vats to make jam, but that's not the case. I only use small batches of 2 kilos or less of fruit and sugar. That way, I can monitor the quality and consistency of my jam better. Copper pans are ideal for small-batch jam-making!

 

  • Can you share more about your sustainability initiatives?

I am passionate about the environment, so I did a degree in it. I am keen to tread lightly; we repurpose and reuse as much as we can. We have a no-bin policy and by using seasonal and wisely sourced ingredients, we can ensure less food miles and waste.

 

  • What’s in store for Naked Jam next?

Sharing the love of food. I love cooking amazing food and I learned it from my mum. She gave me this gift of creating delicious dishes and I want to share it with others. That's why I expanded the kitchen and started offering small classes. Come and join me if you love food too!

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