Rachel and her partner Martin moved to Old Sleningford Farm in 2004 and soon began to grow their own food with friends Keith and Lindsay. Over the years a Forest Garden, raised beds, polytunnel and orchard have provided a plentiful supply of fruit and vegetables, too much in fact, and even after sharing harvests with friends, family and volunteers some was going to waste. So, in 2009, Rachel started trialling different ways of preserving the produce, creating jams, chutneys, cordials and other interesting concoctions and testing them out on visitors to the farm. Encouraged by some great feedback she decided to take it one step further and in 2010 Old Sleningford Preserves was born.
The preserves are made with whatever fruit, vegetables and wild food are available - basically whatever is in season. Sometimes there will be a glut, which will mean lots of preserves made from that produce and Rachel will become inventive and experimental with flavour combinations. However, if there's a poor harvest there won't be that particular preserve that year.
Rachel is very keen to keep the provenance of her preserves - she grows it, harvests it, walks it a few yards from garden to kitchen, makes it into a preserve and sells it directly to the person who will eat it. Selling to a shop is of no interest - the connection between her and her customer would then be lost. Which is why a Community Supported Agriculture Scheme is the perfect model for Old Sleningford Preserves (see the CSA page for more details). Visitors to the farm can purchase preserves and she occasionally attends local food fairs.
Each year the variety of preserves may be different, but here's some examples:
- Jam - Strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb, gooseberry, blackcurrant, plum, damson.
- Chutney - apple, plum, gooseberry, rhubarb, damson, plum, marrow, pumpkin.
- Sauce or relish - tomato, apple, plum, horseradish, sweet chilli.
- Pesto - wild garlic, rocket.
- Jelly - redcurrant, bramble & apple, mint.
- Fruit Curd - rhubarb, gooseberry, blackcurrant.
- Mixed fruit compote.
- Cordial - Elderflower, mixed summer fruit, blackcurrant.
- Fruit and herb infused vinegar and oil.
- Apple Juice.
A full list of products available can be found on the Products page .
Old Sleningford Farm is not certified organic, but no chemicals are used on any of the fruit and vegetables. To see the ingredients used in each preserve, click here .