Siop Cynfelyn's home-made jam, chutney and marmalade
Some of our Jambusters produce
What started out in mid-2015 as a way to use up some surplus fruit has now developed into a minor industry! Thanks to regular work by a team of our volunteer Jambusters, and making use of a quiet time in the kitchen when we close on Monday afternoons, Siop Cynfelyn now produces its own range of home-made jams, chutneys and marmalades, many made using produce from the gardens of our local supporters. We use them in Caffi Cletwr (try the jam on a nice warm scone!) but you can also buy them in the shop. And around Christmas a lot of them find their way into our wonderful Christmas hampers full of Welsh produce.
So call in to the shop and stock up now. Quality local produce - what more could you ask for?
And if you fancy joining our crack team of Jambusters, just drop in to the shop and ask for details.
Beti Wyn stirring the marmalade
Jambusting - Maureen and Chris chopping apples
Beti Wyn and Chris preparing the spicy pumpkin chutney
Sylvia taking her turn with the marmalade
A recent recruit's experiences...
Ann Owen, a new Jambusters recruit, writes about her first experience on Monday 7th December, 2015
It was another dull, grey day when I wound my way last Monday afternoon to Siop Cynfelyn. As I rounded the corner towards the backdoor, the aromas of cider vinegar, mixed spice and stewing fruit greeted me, even before I got inside. In the kitchen, several volunteers were chopping and peeling, measuring and mixing, but above all stirring big maslin pans full of chutneys, marmalade and jam.
This was my introduction to the “Jam Busters”; Siop Cynfelyn’s team of preserve makers. I’d arrived a little late and had to jump right in, so apron on, I got stirring what would become the pumpkin chutney. “Can somebody put some plates in the freezer?”, “Do you think this need a bit more sugar?”, “Where are the rest of the jars?” At this point the conversation was primarily pragmatic, all in service of the preparation of an almighty batch of preserves. On the gas ring next to the pumpkin, a big pot of St Clements marmalade was bubbling and steaming away and presently a dollop was put on one of the chilled plates to check whether it had achieved the right “set”. We all clustered around (this is the exciting bit) while the small puddle of marmalade was prodded and pushed to see if it would form wrinkles. This is probably the only time that you’d be pleased to see those! The verdict was to leave it a little longer. Another pan joined the two already on the cooker, this one with the ingredients for an apple and cranberry Christmas chutney.
Meanwhile, dozens of empty jars went from dishwasher to oven, in preparation for being filled. There was a momentary pause, time for some photos and a chat and then then the St Clements was ready for bottling. Out of the oven came the jars and were filled in quick succession with a golden, shimmery preserve. The kitchen filled with that classic sweet-bitter-tangy scent of warm marmalade, a wonderful, evocative smell, reminiscent of family, baking and all things good.
I was surprised at how easy it was to join in with this gang of lovely ladies, I felt welcomed and appreciated straight away. If ever you felt shy of joining a Jam Busters session, there’s really no need and there’s so much to gain. Especially for younger folk, do go and join them sometime and make sure that these old skills of preserving fruit and making of sweet treats do not get lost. It’s easier than you think, but there are some essential tricks that you do need to master! It’s hard to imagine that in these times of plenty there would ever be a need to make your own jam, but once you learn how to do it, you’ll always know how to provide your loved ones with something deliciously sweet and fruity that is far superior to the mass produced bland preserves in the supermarkets.
As the full jars lined up on the kitchen counter, the last batch of summer fruit was busy turning into a bright red, cheery jam. It looked so festive, we decided to enhance the seasonal feel by sprinkling in some spices; cardamom and cinnamon added their voices to the chorus of scents. Outside it had turned dark, but inside the kitchen, it felt a little like Christmas already. The rich red and golden colours of the preserves, the sweet, spicy smells and the warm, friendly company of the Jam Busters send me on my way home, wrapped in a warm glow that I’m sure wasn’t just the result of lots of vigorous stirring!
Cwmni Cymunedol Cletwr is a company limited by guarantee, registered in Wales, No. 08039632