We discovered they shared our passion for ginger and were experts at turning this fiery ingredient into delicious jams, marmalades and preserves. That chance meeting sparked an idea – why not ask Auntie Val’s to make a ginger preserve range for Gran Stead’s which we can sell alongside our award-winning drinks?
And so, our longstanding relationship with this Community Interest Company was born. This amazing business is run by volunteers to give people with disabilities the chance to work, either at its Storrington-based kitchen or within the wider business community.
It all began with `Auntie Val’, aka Valerie Challis, who used to make unique and unusual flavours of jam and chutney for Billingshurst WI market with recipes handed down from her grandmother. Having worked with special needs children and young adults for many years, Val continued making her delectable selection of preserves, but created a kitchen designed to be disability friendly. Now a CIC, Auntie Val’s provides employment, training and work experience for people with special needs. They are also given assistance with numeracy and literacy skills. Every year the organisation supports around 60 people of all ages and with all disabilities.
The preserves are made in small batches using traditional methods. In fact, the Auntie Val’s kitchen is as low-tech as you can get with 33kg the maximum amount that can be cooked in open pans on single gas burners, ensuring quality.
All those years ago, we began our range of Gran Steads’ preserves made by Auntie Val’s with the popular Ginger Jam and the breakfast favourite, Root Ginger and Seville Marmalade. Since then, we have expanded it to include Stem Ginger In Syrup and Crystallised Ginger – perfect for cake bakers. In the last few months, Aunty Val’s have added a mouth-watering Rhubarb and Ginger Jam to our range. And we have just taken our second delivery of Auntie Val’s Ginger Chutney – it takes a mature cheddar ploughman’s to another level!
It is always a pleasure to include Auntie Val’s wonderful products within our range. Their work concept is admirable but we can honestly say we chose them to make preserves for us because of the high quality of their products and the fact they are local to us.
We take the full range of ginger preserves to food festivals and shows (see forthcoming dates), and they are available to buy via our app alongside the drinks. We also have beautifully-boxed gift packs which combine either Gran Stead’s Mellow Ginger Wine or the Fiery version with Root Ginger and Seville orange marmalade, crystalised ginger and a jar of stem ginger in syrup…it’s the ultimate present for the ginger enthusiast.
As well as the obvious use of the ginger marmalade and jams – a doorstep of toasted wholemeal bread, spread with butter and a generous layer of preserve is our preference – here are a few more ideas:
- Add a tablespoon of Root Ginger and Seville Orange Marmalade to a savoury sauce for pan-fried duck or pork loin.
- Whip up cream cheese with a fork until very soft. Add a layer of Ginger Chutney and use as a dip with crackers or breadsticks.
- Chop stem ginger into small pieces and sprinkle on top of a cream-filled pavlova. Drizzle over some of the syrup for a simple but spectacular dessert.
Share your ideas of how you enjoy our range of ginger preserves via our Facebook page @GranSteadsGinger