Award-winning Keswick-based chef Jake Winter has been cooking up new ways to promote the tasty jams, chutneys and relishes he produces for his Wild & Fruitful Preserves company.
Jake, aged 21, took over the company, which has a professional kitchen in Maryport, with business partner David Seymour, of Lingholm Estate, in Portinscale, in March of this year.
Since then the pair have had ideas on the boil to grow the company, which began life in the early 2000s and was initially tended to by previous owner Jane Maggs.
Although it is expanding, the company’s roots are still very much local.
Jake, who won the Sheila Hensman Award for outstanding contribution to excellence in the catering and hospitality industry at the 2019 Cumbria Tourism awards, said: “We are aiming to push out of the homeland.
“We sell our preserves in farm shops and delis all around Cumbria and are now moving out to Lancashire and Northumbria. We even have a stockist in London, and we sell in the Söderberg cafés in Edinburgh.
“I know how to cook but I don’t know much about websites. Now we have had a new one built and we’ll be able to sell directly from the online shop.”
Former Keswick School pupil Jake has lived in the town all his life, and his parents, Howard, a firefighter, and Helen, own Hazeldene Guest House at The Heads.
Jake was inspired to begin his jam-making craft through the family business.
“I’ve always liked selling things in the guest house,” he said. “When I was younger I hurt my shoulder badly and couldn’t play rugby, so I started making jam with my mum in my spare time. I made little jars for the guests and then started selling them on Instagram and Facebook.
“After I left school at 16, I did apprenticeships and was trained as a chef by Ian Mackay, the head chef at the Lyzzick Hall Hotel, near Keswick.
“Making jams and chutneys was my side hustle.”
The ethos of Wild & Fruitful has always been to source as much produce as locally as possible, and Jake forages for wild produce, including blackberries, and collects from a number of gardens across Cumbria.
Strawberries and green tomatoes for his products come from Cochranes Nurseries at Longtown, near Carlisle, while damsons for his jam are from the Lyth Valley. He also makes use of the gardens at Lingholm Estate, which was one of the inspirations for Mr McGregor’s garden in the world-famous Beatrix Potter story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
“I’m a proud Cumbrian so I always think why not use Cumbrian fruit and veg in my produce?” said Jake. “I think people are more bothered by where their food comes from nowadays, and we’re aiming to reduce food miles.”
Some of Wild & Fruitful’s distinct range of flavours comes from working with businesses in the Keswick area.
“We work with the Lakes Distillery and use their spirits in some of our jams and chutneys,” said Jake.
“We also recently added a mocha curd to our range, using coffee from Carvetii and a Keswick ale chutney, made with beer from Keswick Brewing Company.
“The ale chutney goes really well with cheeses from the Keswick Cheese Deli which stocks our products.”
However, the Wild & Fruitful’s best-selling product is very traditional. The Really Raspberry Jam has a big fruit content and is made from just three ingredients — raspberries, sugar and pectin.
Jake and David are not sitting on their laurels, however, and are busy cooking up ideas for new products planned for launch next year. Using a traditional open pan method, all Wild & Fruitful’s products are 100 per cent natural with no artificial colours or additives.
“We are an artisan preserves manufacturer and everything is kept traditional. We make everything in small batches following recipes that have been skilfully developed to bring out the taste of the wonderful country produce we use. David and I are just wild about preserves.”