I’d be beyond remiss not to give a little shout out to Wilkin & Sons Tiptree Jam as we’re talking about local food marvels. Tiptree jam is manufactured at the Wilkin and Sons factory roughly ten miles from the spot I am typing this from, and it’s pretty famous in these parts. Now a trust run business, Wilkin & Sons have been banging out jams, sauces, preserves and marmalades since 1885 from the village of Tiptree in sunny Essex. Still under the eye of the original founder’s great grandson, this is a Great British Business thriving at home when other classic homegrown products are either scaling down or being sold to international companies such as the now Japanese owned Branston Pickle. So why are Wilkin & Sons still doing so well?
Who doesn’t like jam? Oh, yes you do you big fibber, and if you visit either the on site shop at the factory or their lovely website, I challenge you to go through their sticky repertoire and not find something you want. Ok so pedants may point out it’s not ALL jam, but this adds to the beauty of it. There’s jams, marmalades, lemon curd, ice creams, jellies, honey, savoury table sauces and chutneys, even a simply labelled jar of ‘Christmas’, it’s never ending! Ok, not quite never ending but it’s a fantastic selection and I am yet to meet a Tiptree product I didn’t like. I am still working my way through the entire list but favour in particular their lime marmalade and hot mango sauce. Their plain and simple strawberry jam is second to none, so wonderfully sticky and fruity, without being sickly, that I’ve never felt the need to upgrade to their champagne version. But never say never.
Ok fine, I hear you say, but it’s just jam! And sauce and marmalade and that. Why them? Well don’t take my word for it, ask HRH The Queen of England if you get the chance. The Royal table has had a standing order from Wilkin & Sons since 1911 and if it’s good enough for them, well.
But why settle with a jar of jam by mail order (or by hand from most grocers, country wide) when you can go to the factory yourself for the full experience! Sadly a factory tour isn’t available these days but as well as a gorgeous little shop full of reasonably priced (no, really) jams and jellies and spreads plus some artisan bakery products and other local wonder produce there is a delightful jam museum and the all important tea rooms. You can get refreshed with a selection of rather good teas or out and out stuffed with grub, right on the main site where all the products are made. Standard tea room fare is available in the form of sandwiches and baked potatoes but really, when in this particular Rome you need to be going for a full on afternoon tea of sandwiches and scones and butter and yes, you guessed it, JAM! All served in their signature mini jars, it’s just such a simple treat. I went there recently for a friend’s birthday lunch and am still deliriously happy to have been introduced to their Hot Gooseberry Chutney which makes the difference between a cheese sandwich and the best bloody cheese sandwich you ever laid tastebuds on. Heavenly.
You can read more about them by clicking here, including their farming, recipes, products and illustrious history. They are a great British success story, and don’t fight the sampling temptation, if nothing else grab yourself a jar of their strawberry or raspberry jam. Or the cherry one. Or the tawny marmalade. And some mango sauce. And you’re done. Once you’ve got some icecream too. Maybe some more jam.