Last Fruit harvest of the year
Into November and a first frost led us to finally pick our crab apples.
These fruits from trees planted just four years ago provide a wonderful (and unusual) red juice that we use to make our Crab Apple Jelly. Keep an eye open for this at the Abergavenny Christmas Food & Drink Fair (you'll find us in the Market Hall).
We also make a special Chilli Crab Apple Jelly for Black Mountains Smokery - a lovely accompaniment for smoked meats and poultry.
This jelly has more than a hint of citrus & chilli beautifully balanced by the fragrant sweetness of crab apple. Serve on the side or melt into a vinaigrette to make a drizzle or dipping sauce.
Another Great Taste Award!
Great Taste discovered under a gooseberry bush!
Great Taste Award 2016 Judges said:
"We found great delight in this well made jam. Plenty of fruit and a great colour from the sweet gooseberries. A very soft and gentle set, not too sweet and very well balanced."
We were delighted that the judges enjoyed this traditional jam so much. When sometimes it seems that only elaborate blends of flavours achieve acolades, recognition for a taste that is as old as the hills is great to see!
The jam works really well as an accompaniment to a scone or Welsh cake and is delicious with yoghurt or porridge
If you enjoy our Gooseberry, why not try some of our other old-fashioned jams just coming into season such as Blackberry and Damson. Or return to some old favourites such as Raspberry, Rhubarb & Ginger or Strawberry.
Another beautiful day picking pears at a farm orchard in the upland area between Raglan and Monmouth. The gently undulating countryside in the region of the Three Castles is in many senses timeless and this orchard is a place of real peace. The views are terrific too, especially from high in the pear trees, with the Black Mountains prominent on the skyline. it's a beautiful spot to share a picnic - last year with our great friends, Karen & Richard, this year with a few of these charachters!
We're delighted with the quality of our Pear & Ginger Chutney. For those of you who haven't yet tried this do look out for the delecate balance of flavour - great with a cheese board, or charcuterie (take note Tom at The Marches Deli! - see below for more on our Abergavenny and now Monmouth outlets).
In late September we shall return to the orchard for Crab Apples - perfect in our Crab Apple Jelly and in the Chilli Crab Apple Jelly we make for the Black Mountains Smokery.
We also make a Gooseberry Jelly and a Cider Jelly (using Pips Cider) especially for for The Black Mountains Smokery, and have just added a Spiced Apple Chutney to that list of specials. In addition, BMS sell our Seville Orange Marmalade, Cranberry & Claret Jelly, Spiced Apple Chutney, Sweet Beetroot Chutney and Red Onion Marmalade in support of their fantastic range of smoked fish, poultry and cured meats.
Do check outthe Smokery website for further information and recipe suggestions.
Spring sunshine, snow & frost
After such a wet and unusually mild winter the sun, snow and morning frost of recent days have been very welcome!
Our fruit trees, in particular, will have benefitted from the chill - a good harvest depends on a cold snap and so we're hoping this does the trick!
One variety of our rhubarb emerged from its slumbering crowns in December and we shall soon take a first crop - very early for us!
The rest of the garden and vegetable patch is gradually waking up and we're beginning to plan out the season's planting.
An early Easter brought a flurry of orders and kept our courier busy. Marshall Langston (our packaging suppliers) have worked with us to design new boxes for our jars and these are proving a big improvement.
The Food Centre Wales held their annual open day earlier in March and invited businesses to attend. This brought us several new wholesale enquiries and it was good to be so confident of the packaging we use for our couriered service. Marshall Langston have redesigned the livery on their delivery fleet and it's great to see our popular gift box prominently featured.
Miranda's has a long standing relationship with Brecon Brewing - we make our popular Landlord's Chutney using their Copper Beacons Ale. It's exciting to see them open the Brecon Tap in the centre of the town, featuring their range of ales and offering an attractive menu with a range of specially made, soon to be famous pies with the option to use our Landlord's Chutney as an accompaniment. The Tap also has a selection of Miranda's chutneys for sale.
New Chutneys - Fine Food Digest Article
Our new Pear & Ginger Chutney, featured in the February edition of Fine Food Digest will be available later this year (they got that bit wrong!).
We're also really pleased with our new Crunchy Carrot Chutney which is available now. It is quite warm with chilli flakes and mustard seed amongst the spice range providing the background flavour. Delicious with curries, it is also good with cheeses, cold meats and salads - we are expecting its combination of crunch and bite to prove popular!
Red Onion Marmalade
A wet day spent making Red Onion Marmalade (why is this popular chutney called a marmalade?).
Lovely, high qulaity red onions, sliced and lightly caramelised in olive oil before adding at varoius stages the red wine, sugar, vinegars and spice mix.
The result has a light, peppery finish - lovely with sausage, burgers or cheese!
Overwhelmed by mangoes!
At the start of the new year we prime our (brilliant) fruit and veg. wholesaler to be on the lookout for new season mangoes. Late January saw us prepare over 100Kg for our delicious Mango & Ginger Chutney. As the recipe for one of our batch-pans involves just 4Kg of the fruit, you can imagine we were flat-out - in fact mangoed-out!
We hope that our stocks of this ever-popular preserve will last longer than last year but if it's a favourite then be sure to secure your supplies early!
Miranda's now in Newtown
JoJo and Barrie fromThe High Street Deli in Newtown came to visit us in January. They were on a journey through Wales visiting small producers whom they thought they might like to stock in their newly re-styled deli in Newtown. They were great fun to be with and clearly passionate about stocking high quality Welsh products. We delivered our first batch of preserves at the end of the month and spent a lovely time with them in their beautifully redecorated deli, enjoying fresh Coaltown Coffee and coming away with gorgeous locally baked bread and a new recipe book!
Barrie is a social media fanatic and we've enjoyed our preserves featuring in a range of his inventive tweets - catch up at @highstreetdeli and/or visit their website www.thehighstreetdelicatessen.com
A great local business
Napton Village Stores and Post Office in Warwickshire is a great place to try new tastes! Especially in the Napton Kitchen - eat in or take-away.
Hannah, Adam and the team are full of ideas and provide a great range of local produce in a store at the heart of its community.
We're delighted to supply them with our preserves - do check out their new website www.naptonvillagestores.co.uk and do plan to call in if you're passing.
Late Autumn Wonderland
Late October brought us some beautiful weather. The Crab Apples have held firm right through the mild spell and we spent a glorious morning picking on the common below the ridge of the Black Mountains close to Ivy Cottage.
A few others were on the common foraging for mushrooms - we never quite have the courage to collect any but the most obvious varieties for eating but these experts had found a wide range for the pot.
We use the juice from our harvest in our traditional Crab Apple Jelly and love the way the different varieties bring such a range of colour to the not-too-sweet, translucent jelly; they bring a range of setting point too and that can be less loveable!
We also make a Chilli Crab Apple Jelly especially for the Black Mountains Smokery who sell it as an accompaniment to their gorgeous smoked poultry, meats and fish.
It really is a privilege to live and work in such beautiful countryside.
Although the last week has been wet and grey (encouraging us to be heads down cooking!) we are buoyed by days such as that enjoyed last week when, late in the afternoon, we emerged from the fog to alpine blue skies above the valley seas.
Autumn is very much the season for jelly making. Anne & Mike, who run a fabulous b&b in Saundersfoot, have a lovely Medlar tree in their garden - Cliff House (see link for photo). They brought us their crop of fruit earlier this week and now the Medlars have bletted we've been able to juice them and make a beautiful, honey coloured jelly.
As with Quince, some prefer to make a cheese rather than a jelly (click here for recipe). Both the cheese and the jelly are lovely; the difficulty is finding the fruit, especially Medlars - though last year Quince were in very short supply too.
More new Chutney Research
Looking ahead to Christmas (!) we've been reviewing our recipes and have been experimenting to produce a new "Festive" Chutney. This brings cranberries and apple together, producing a fresh, tangy flavour that, with a subtle blend of spices, will make a versatile accompaniment to a whole variety of seasonal treats - from turkey or game through to mince pies and cheeses.
Look out for our new Festive Chutney on the shelves of our stockists and on the website from early November and/or come and taste at the Abergavenny Christmas Food & Drink Fair on December 13th.
Abergavenny Food Festival
Lovely autumn weather brought out the crowds for the 2015 September festival with greater numbers attending than we can remember.
As usual our Chilli Lime Chutney was a best seller - people like the strong lime and gentle heat; similar to the very best Indian pickle and so a great accompanyment for popadoms, samosa, bhaji or pakora but excellent with a strong cheese too. Strawberry & Pimm's, Blackcurrant, Raspberry and Pear & Vanilla jams were all very popular too as was our range of high fruit marmalades with the Penderyn Gift Bag proving a favourite gift choice.
Great to meet customers - both "returners" and those newly discovering our preserves.
The market hall goats were a favourite with visiting children and we seemed to hit the right note with the young lady pictured below too!
Glorious Food Festivals!
September brings first Ludlow and then Abergavenny Food Festivals one week apart - all that preparation in the middle of the fruit harvest!
Both festivals offer visitors a fantastic array of produce to first sample then, hopefully, buy! But they also provide producers such as us with a wonderful opportunity to meet our customers and chat with them about our preserves. There's nothing like hearing opinions on flavour balance and texture first hand - thankfully comments are almost universally positive!
Ludlow is a beautiful town and we were lucky with the weather. This photo was taken from the top of the castle tower before opening on the Sunday - the marquee is enormous!
These festivals are also a good opportunity to catch up with other producers and share ideas. We're always delighted by how willing other traders are to offer their help and support; this was particularly welcome when we first took over the business some four years ago.
In the lead up to Ludlow we were lucky to have help from one of our children.
Simon is training as a chef and found a couple of weeks following his year-long placement at an Italian restaurant and ahead of returning to university to lend us an extra pair of hands.
He also brought some specialist insight to bear on some of our work and it was great, for instance, to have his views on both our new Pear & Festive Chutney recipes which he has helped us to finalise (see more on these below).
Our award winning Blackcurrant Jam is selling particularly well and so has been at the top of our making list recently.
If you're coming to Abergavenny do find us in the Market Hall and try a taste! It's delicious with fresh yoghurt for a healthy breakfast treat!
Another beautiful day picking pears at a farm orchard in the upland area between Raglan and Monmouth. The gently undulating countryside in the region of the Three Castles is in many senses timeless and this orchard is a place of real peace. The views are terrific too, especially from high in the pear trees, with the Black Mountains prominent on the skyline. Great to have had help from friends Karen & Richard - it's a beautiful spot to share a picnic!
We're delighted with the quality of our Hot Pear chutney. For those of you who haven't yet tried this do look out for the subtle warmth from cayenne pepper that follows the fruit to the palate - great with a cheese board, or charcuterie (take note Tom at The Marches Deli! - see below for more on our Abergavenny outlet).
We're also excited about a new Pear recipe that we shall be finalising this week and will have available later in the year once it has had a little time to mature - more news of this nearer the time.
In late September we shall return to the orchard for Crab Apples - perfect in our Crab Apple Jelly and in the Chilli Crab Apple Jelly we make for the Black Mountains Smokery.
We also make a Gooseberry Jelly and a Cider Jelly (using Pips Cider) especially for for The Black Mountains Smokery, and have just added a Spiced Apple Chutney to that list of specials. In addition, BMS sell our Seville Orange Marmalade, Cranberry & Claret Jelly, Fig,Tomato & Caramelised Onion Chutney, Sweet Beetroot Chutney and Red Onion Marmalade in support of their fantastic range of smoked fish, poultry and cured meats.
Do check outthe Smokery website for further information and recipe suggestions.
Bumper Rhubarb Crop
The warmth of early summer brought us a fantastic
rhubarb harvest and we've just taken our final crop of the year.
The bed was established two years ago with transplants from elsewhere in our garden, plus new varieties bought from friends near Monmouth. The original plants got going quickly, but it is this year that the Monmouth varieties have really matured.
Our Rhubarb & Ginger Jam follows a real old-fashioned recipe, but is a favourite with all generations. As with all our preserves it has a really high fruit content and no added preservatives, so is full of the zing of the rhubarb, highlighted by the ginger!
Make sure of yours before we run out!
Bodnant Welsh Food Centre
We were pleased to be invited to supply Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in North Wales at the start of the year.
It was good to visit them during the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and to see that people were enjoying our range and that it was selling well.
We were there to offer visitors a chance to taste our preserves.
Canapés served with our preserves accompanying Black Mountains Smokery products were especially popular - the experts in our picture certainly thought them yummy!
Recipe suggestions: place a little crème fraîche to a canapé base then add their smoked chicken with our Fruity Cider Jelly; their smoked salmon with our Sweet Beetroot or their smoked duck with our Red Onion Marmalade.
All change at the Nevill Street deli in Abergavenny
We are delighted to see The Marches Deli well and truly up and running and wish Tom all the very best in his new enterprise! We can fully endorse the quality of the sandwiches having enjoyed them at the recent Abergavenny Food Festival; great application of some our favourite chutneys!
The festival was a glorious success - accompanied by wonderful early autumn sunshine! Our thanks to the organising team and, especially, to Matrika.
We're looking forward to being inside at the Christmas Food & Drink Fair for the first time - must be aging!
Welcome help in the veg. patch!
What a difference three more pairs of hands makes in the veg. patch - compost turned, rhubarb bed weeded and mulched, beans cropped....
The new, larger, rhubarb bed is just a year old and so, dug out of meadow, it still requires lots of attention - particularly now as weeds seem to re-grow instantly! We won't use herbicides.
Today's helpers made a final late July rhubarb crop look a real possibility.
This is our busiest time of year; one when the garden can easily get away from us.
Having willing family helpers this weekend doubled the pleasure of their visit - for us all! Cropping the early beans and preparing those beds for winter brassicas was all achieved so much more quickly with the aid of willing youthful labour - at the reasonable cost of food & water - the latter in the form of Brains Gold!
Good too, at the weekend, to have our son who is a chef give his seal of approval to the Minted Gooseberry Jelly made for The Walled Garden, Treberfydd.
New Outlet in Ledbury
The Handmade Scotch Egg Company have now opened their second outlet at Little Verzon'sFarm on the Hereford Road a little way outside Ledbury.
There are exciting plans for the further development of the site and we were delighted to visit with our first delivery earlier in July.
Shrewsbury Food Festival
Having enjoyed two weeks of glorious weather we were hoping for sunshine in Shrewsbury.
The second annual Food Festival based in the Quarry, a beautiful park that runs down to the river, went really well today, lots of friendly, happy people!
If you're looking for a great day in the sun, what better place than Quarry Park?
Do come to find us and try our specials - the Pear & Vanilla and Strawberry & Pimms Jams are perfect for summer.
We shall also have with us our refreshingly light Tangy Tomato relish -perfect with a summer salad.
This is being featured on the menu at the fabulous new restaurant, Coast, which recently opened at Coppet Hall Beach, just outside Saundersfoot.
Veg. Patch winter preparation
Winter help from Helen & Toby with our veg. patch preparations was very welcome! There's just never enough time and so it was great to have the the extra pairs of hands. Their renovation of the rhubarb bed was particularly welcome. It had become quite weed infested during the extended autumn season when our eyes were well and truly on the apple and pear harvest.
Proof of the value of their hard work came when crown heads appeared just ahead of the New Year. We hope this will lead to a bumper harvest in the late spring and early summer.
We were on our own again today after a lovely family Christmas.
The gap between the storms proved perfect for pruning apple trees and finding that one of her mistletoe berries had struck made Anita's day. Hopefully it won't do the tree too much harm!
This season's Plum crop has been fantastic and the jam made with them is lovely - try our Christmas special Spiced Plum; beautifully warming on toast, a crumpet or a warm scone. This week we've enjoyed working with delicious cranberries. Miranda's Orange & Cranberry Marmalade is beautifully sharp and richly textured - a real treat on Christmas morning toast! To accompany your Christmas roast or cold meats and cheeses try our Cranberry Sauce which carries a delicious citrus kick provided by generous quantities of fresh orange zest or a new recipe, Cranberry & Claret Jelly, which has a deeply luxurious flavour to complement the silky texture of the jelly.
All our specials will be available directly from us at Food Festivals in the run up to Christmas - as long as stocks last!
Flavours of Hereford Food Festival
Lovely to see such large and friendly crowds enjoying the Flavours of Hereford beneath the shadow of the cathedral in the heart of the city at the start of November. It was great meet so many returning customers and to find that you liked the re-branded Miranda's!
Our favourite Christmas jam, Spiced Plum, proved as popular as ever and we sold dozens of of our gift bag sets - do see our online shop where you can now find these available.
Damson Jam was popular and many came looking for marmalade - those with a fondness for whisky particularly liked our Penderyn Portwood flavoured specialities.
Chutneys proved a popular accompanyment to the many cheese and meat specialities on offer. Landlord's Chutney, with the hoppy flavours of Brecon Brewing's Copper Beacons Ale was a top seller alongside Apple & Cinnamon, Chilli Lime and Sweet Beetroot Chutneys. Our Hot Pear Chutney, based on the harvest talked of below, also went down well.
Many thanks to the organisers and to all who came for what proved a great family weekend.
We'll be busy this week perfecting a new recipe for Christmas - Cranberry & Claret Jelly, and we'll be working with the Stowe Farm beetroot crop to put in store as much Sweet Beetroot Chutney as possible.
National Fruit Revolution
In his new series of River Cottage (Wednesdays, 8pm, Channel 4), Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall urges us to consider the more imaginative use of fruit. Time for a national fruit revolution!
In the first programme he suggested gooseberries with mackerel. The Black Mountain Smokery have been advocaing accompanying their smoked fish with Miranda's Preserves' Gooseberry Jelly for some time and we make this deliciously sharp preserve exclusively for the Crickhowell based company.
Again, in the first programme, Hugh's rhubarb cheesecake sounds lovely. Miranda's Rhubarb & Ginger jam is fantastic with a rich cheese - try it with crumbly Lancashire or creamy Wensleydale. We're looking forward to picking up on more of Hugh and his team's ideas as the series progresses as we're always keeping an eye out for new dishes which our preserves might complement.
It has been such a wonderful harvest many of you must be discovering new combinations , or enjoying old favourites. Why not let us know your favourite fruity preserve combinations?
We're revelling in a plentiful supply of apples and pears and rushing to preserve their goodness. Batches of Hot Pear Chutney were laid down today and the flavours will mature nicely for late autumn, providing a warming accompanyment to sausage, pies, a roast or the cheese that follows.
Blueberries are one of the most antioxidant rich foods in the world. Antioxidants are necessary for life and are well known to reverse and prevent heart disease and even cancer. The blue color of the berry comes from it's poly phenols which provide most of it's antioxidant properties. Our Blueberry & Apple Jam is a lovely way of including this important fruit in our diet.
What a fabulous time of year! We spent a glorious day last week picking pears and apples in an ancient orchard in the upland area between Raglan and Monmouth. This time we had the other of our two boys, Tom, with us offering a very welcome helping hand. The presence of a gypsy caravan served to empahasise the timeless aspect of harvest and preserving the fruit.
At this time of year we always worry about stock levels. Abergavenny and Ludlow Festivals are huge for us and inevitably leave us thin, but, of course, that's how it should be as we revel in new season beetroot, red onion and of course apples - all staple elements of so many chutneys. The real challenge is preserving what we harvest as fast as we can!
Our Hot Pear Chutney is always popular at this time of year, providing a versatile accompanyment to cold meats, cheeses, sausage or burgers and pasties or pork pies!
The new season Sweet Beetroot Chutney (GreatTaste Gold) looks fantastic with a vivid colour and fabulous taste - Stowe Farm's organic produce is at the heart of the recipe. Our Apple & Cinnamon Chutney is an unsung hero - once tasted, generally re-ordered!
No sooner had we made space for the orchard bounty our neighbour Ken announced that his apple trees were ready for picking and another lovely autumn day saw us add to our storage problems.
The new season blackcurrants are making a beautiful jam; the weather this year has brought a magnificent harvest.
Blackcurrants are an exceptionally rich source of vitamin C – containing three times more than oranges – and natural phenolic compounds, notably anthocyanins. This winning combination appears to bestow an anti-inflammatory effect, promoting cardiovascular and brain health, and offering some protection against age-related eye problems. Some research suggests the phenolic compounds help prevent urinary tract infections and relieve the symptoms.
Curds at Abergavenny
As is traditional, we took curds with us to the Abergavenny Food Festival. In addition to Lemon Curd and Tipsy Lemon Curd, where a little Advocaat softens the lemon, we made Ginger Lime Curd and Bramley Apple Lemon Curd. All proved popular variants of an old fashioned recipe - the Ginger Lime Curd sold out on Saturday afternoon and we enjoyed receiving the following tweet from Bex (with accompanying verification shot!):
"Yummy Sunday morning pancakes with @Mirandapreserve tipsy lemon curd, delicious!"
This year we have become suppliers to several Cadw properties including Tintern Abbey set in the beautiful Wye Valley. The preserves have proved very popular with visitors and we were delighted to receive a repeat order within a fortnight of our last major delivery - the BBC Countryfile feature on the Abbey obviously brought added visitors!
The preserves can also be bought at Raglan Castle, Kidwelly Castle and Caerleon Roman Baths.
Ludlow Food Festival
Good crowds of discerning visitors - even on the final damp Sunday! It was great to have one of our boys, Simon, with us as an extra pair of hands - he really enjoyed some of the demonstrations on offer too. Lots of enjoyable conversation and almost out of stock at the end. Thanks to Beth and her team for the usual impressive organisation and warm welcome.
Brecon Beacons Mountain Centre Summer Fayre
The weather was very different from that experienced at the Fayre in 2012 when we almost swam out on the Bank Holiday Monday! It was great to meet visitors from all over Britain and beyond as well as many from close by and all enjoyed the sunshine!