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The Journal of the Jam Butty

The last Seville
For us at Wild Side January means only one thing - Seville Marmalade.
Seveille Oranges come from, would you believe it, the area around Seville in Southern Spain and we were rather delighted to see some gowing along the High Street in Gibraltar when we visited in November. But this discovery wasn't going to get us very far becuse we need a LOT of Sevilles to satisfy the demand of our customers. So it was off to the Wholesale market at 6.00am in the first week of January to buy 56 kilos of these ...

Finding a thrill on Bilberry Hill!
Its not every day we introduce a new flavour of jam, but let the bells ring out across the nation - Bilberry Jam has arrived on the Wild Side shelves!

Now I probably need to offer some explanation about these berries, which are also referred to as Blaeberries, Whortleberries, Whinberries, Windberries and Myrtle Berries. These tiny little berries can be found on open uplands across the country, which accounts for the diversity of names given to them, and have a delicious flavour which means t ...

23 Nov 2023
Changes are coming....
After a wonderful decade with The Jam Butty, the 2024 season will be our last with the iconic little butty in tow.

But for all you preserve lovers fear not - we will still be trading and are simply switching to a new longer boat, trading from a side hatch.

Why sell the lovely little butty we hear you cry? Well, although it can carry an impressive 2000 jars, it does make the steering a bit heavier and this may become more of a problem as Andy moved further into his 60's. 

What is more, travelli ...

26 Feb 2023
Wildside talks
Wild Side has developed an interesting sideline over the winter months - talks.

It came about by accident when a friend who happened to be the social secretary for the Aldridge Women's Institute approached us to see if we would do a talk about our lives aboard the Jam Butty and our preserve making activities. Why not, we thought, little realising how this strand of the business would develop. 

We prepared a presentation which tells our story, and rather to our surprise it went down a storm. W ...

16 Dec 2022
Life in the freezer
As I write this blog post the nation is in the clutch of a icy arctic blast during the run up to Christmas, with the thermometer hovering at a chilling minus seven.

If that isnt enough, its the time of year when we transform all the fruit we froze into jams for next years sales, fruit like damsons, quince, blackberries and rhubarb. But you dont have to worry about us being chilled to the bone.... The preserve making process is just the job for cold winter days because with the hobs alight to soft ...

23 Nov 2022
Meddling with Medlars
And so we come to the end of another foraging year, and that means we have been picking Medlars.

Medlars? I year you ask - what sort of fruit is that?

Well, Medlars are an ancient and massivley under appreciated fruit which is harvested in November, held until they have softened in aprocess called bletting, and then used initially to make Medlar Jelly. This is a sublime taste which includes elements of apple and caramel and when used as a jelly, is fabulous as both a sweet topping on crumpets and ...

24 Oct 2022
Anyone for Jelly?
September and October are the big Chutney months for us, a time when we are racing to use all the apples and pears we picked as we travelled home. Whilst we love the taste of the end result, I think its fair to say that chutney making isnt the favourite part of our business on account of the vinegary smell which permeates the kitchen and averything in it! 
It therefore comes as something of a relief to beak the chutney cycle and switch to jellies, even if just for a week or two.
So tonight, a ...

29 Aug 2022
Bratching a plan
After all the bustle of the last two trading weekends we thought we had found the perfect antidote over the August bank holiday weekend by joining the Staffs and Worcester Canal Society as they gathered to celebrate to canal's 250th birthday at Bratch Locks.

The Bratch is arguably the single most significant built structure on the canal, with its three almost interconnected chambers lift the waterway alongside the equally impressive Victorian Bratch Pumping Station. Originally these were a three ...

25 Aug 2022
Trading on the Wyrley and Essington Canal
Even for canal enthusiasts the Wyrley and Essington is a rarely travelled waterway, snaking a lagely urban course across the worked out coal fields of the northern Birmingham Canal Navigations.
However, this August two significant canal festivals were held along its winding course (they call it the Curly Wyrley).

The first was held in Wednesfield near Wolverhampton's New Cross Hospital and the Bentley Bridge Trading Estate, and area which has really embraced its canal.The event was held on one of ...

27 Jul 2022
Wild Side at the 2022 Commonwealth Games
Wild Side takes its place at 2022 Commonwealth Games!

We were delighted to be asked to be a supplier to the Department for International Trade as they play host to the good and the great from around the Commonwealth. It would be nice to think that some international trade deals were sealed with a film of locally foraged jam!
Good luck to everyone involved with the games!

13 Jul 2022
The heat is on!
The Jam Butty has returned to the Midlands and enjoyed a great weekend at the Coventry Floating Market.
However, since our visit to Coventry Basin the weather has turned against us. Normally that means rain, but in this instance it is sun and hot weather. Existing in a steel tube in full sunlight when the temperatures nudge 30c is no fun for us, and definately not good for the peserves.... The only answer to heatwaves is to find a shady spot and to stay there, which means we have missed our plann ...

03 Jun 2022
Heading north
It seems like ages since we brandished a preserving pan in anger!
Returning to our pre pandemic pattern, we started our season with a visit to the St Richards Festival in Droitwich and then set off on a six week watery wander, this time visiting some of the waterways in the north west including the Llandollen with its soaring aqueducts, the secretive Montgomery Branch and also the mighty Weaver Navigation accessed via the huge Anderton Boat Lift.
During this time we focus more on travel than sales ...

03 Apr 2022
Getting a bit tarty
When it comes to jam here at Wild Side we sometimes like to go a little tarty.The grandchildren were with us this weekend and we soon found ourselves casting round for something to do which will interest them, and settled on a spot of baking - but what to make? Well, last week saw us complete our pre season preserve making (250 jars of Wild Garlic and Carrot Chutney) and we rounded off the weekend with a stock take, and realised we had a lot of part filled jars of jam, so why not turn then into ...

02 Mar 2022
We're jammin, jammin, we hope you like jammin too.....
You dont have to be a reggae fan to appreciate a spot of jammin.

Here at Wild Side we spend a lot of time jammin, often in late summer when the hedgerows are awash with fruit, but we really pick up the pace in February and March. 

This this the time of year when we convert all the fruit we froze last season into delicious jams for the forthcoming trading season. There is nothing quite like walking through our front door and your nostrils being assailed by the heady aroma of Raspberries, Damso ...

02 Mar 2022
Boysenberries coming soon(ish).
Hands up anyone who has enjoyed the delights of Boysenberry Jam...... Hmm, not many hands in sight so I will explain.

A few years ago we spent a month in New Zealand and stumbled our way into the little town of Geraldine on South Island, and as we were wandering around we came across a shop entirely devoted to jam. Heaven!  It turned out that the shop was the retail outlet for Barkers, one of the largest jam makers in the Antipodes, and they had flavours availabe for taste. 

Well, I trie ...

31 Jan 2022
Seville Oranges everywhere!
January at Wild Side means only one thing - Seville Orange Marmalade. At the risk of sounding like Bubba Gump, we have made: Seville Whisky Seville, Sloe Whisky Seville, Seville with Medlar Brandy, Sloe Gin Fizz Marmalade(with Sevilles) and now, as we come into land, six batches of simple Seville Marmalade. That just leaves Three Fruits Marmalade - Lemon Grapefruit and - you guessed - Seville Oranges! We hope you all still like Seville Marmalade.........

03 Dec 2021
Cinnamon is in the air!
There can be no finer harbinger of Christmas than the festive aroma of Cinnamon Plum Jam wafting from our preserving pans. 

Well, it makes a pleasant change from the vinegary Red Onion Marmalade which has assailed our visitors over the last few weeks.....

Cinnamon Plum Jam is a bit of a hit and miss affair, depending on finding wild plums just when we need them, which we squirrel away in the freezer for the ritual transformation with a dash of cinnamon as winter progresses. The thing with Cin ...

10 Nov 2021
Christmas is upon us!
In the early days of Wild Side, before we travelled extensively with The Jam Butty, Christmas Fairs made up a sizeable element of our annual sales, but in the last few seasons we have limited our Christmas sales activity to just our local church craft event and the sales we make from our home in Aldridge.
As you will have gathered, we pretty much ran out of stock at the end of August and have spent the Autumn replenishing our store room and what we have available is reflected on the products page ...

23 Oct 2021
Autumn arrives!
The summer passed in a whirl with unexpected levels of demand for our preserves wherever we stopped. In some ways it was a bit like driving on a remote road with the fuel gauge edging towards zero as we headed south to the IWA festival in Worcester - the last event of our 2021 season.

We thought we had enough stock for the three day event, then we opened for business and sold every last jar within two days. Well, they do say its best to leave when the crowd is still wanting more....

And so it was ...

09 Jul 2021
Hoping in Hopwas
At the risk of sounding like a retail featherweight, we have decided to take a very half hearted approach to trading this weekend. The last month has been frantic in terms of preserve sales, and we are now so far ahead of our planned sales plan it seems likely that our stock will run out long before the end of summer!
But that's not the reason for taking our foot off the proverbal gas. For the last few weeks we have been following the fortunes of the England football team in the much delayed 2020 ...

03 Jul 2021
Keeping abreast in Atherstone
You know how great minds sometimes think alike? Well, after last weekend in Coventry several of the traders headed north along the Coventry Canal and we all concluded independently that Atherstone would be a good place to pause for the weekend. If that wasn't enough the fudge boat and the toastie boat arrived heading south, so pretty much by accident we had ourselves an impromptu pop up floating market. 
For our part we were stragglers arriving on Saurday morning, and given the demand for mo ...

28 Jun 2021
Sent to Coventry
Being sent to Coventry generally refers to being shunned, banished or at least not spoken to, so you would think that our time in Coventry Canal Basin as part of the RCTA Floating Market woud be a subdued and quiet sort of affair.

The portents for this event were, fo be fair, not good. The floating market was supposed to be the sideshow to one of the City of Culture's main events - with the central area of the basin occupied by a musical stage hosting an array of local performers by day, and then ...

19 Jun 2021
Tipping our hat at Atherstone
Another weekend and another Midland's town.

We are making a slow approach to Coventry where a Floating Market will be held as part of the City of Culture celebrations and this weekend we have reached the historic town of Atherstone, an old market town on the A5 which has provided a stopping place for travellers since the  Roman first built it and gave it the prosaic name of Watling Street. 

This association with lines of transport have continued through the centuries, first with the roa ...

05 Jun 2021
Fradley where?
Ask anyone withing a 20 minute drive of Lichfield for directions to the Junction of the Coventry Canal and the Trent and Mersey and its very likely they can tell you the way there.

Thats more that can be said for most canal junctions and the reason is that it's one of those places which are often visited by locals but few others know of its existance. Its not the sort of place you just stumble across. Its appeal lies in the gentle pleasures of a 15 minute walk around the adjoining lake or the sli ...

31 May 2021
Putting the Great into Great Haywood
Most times the weather on a British bank holiday is overcast, wet and windy - and usually all three! But the late May bank holiday 2021 has bucked the trend with the sun finally making an appearance and, in the process, raising everyones spirits.

We selected Great Haywood for our bank holiday pitch but were slightly concerned when we heard that the moorings between the lock and the junction were closed - our favourite spot! On closer inspection it became apparent that the planned towpath improvem ...

21 May 2021
Preserves in Penkridge
After a week plying the lesser travelled backwaters of the Birmingham Canal Navigations, The Jam Butty has arrived in Penkridge and will be moored outside the Cross Keys Pub (ST19 5HJ) till the afternoon of Sunday 23rd May.

The waether forecast is a bit his and miss for the weekend but Saturday looks to at least be dry.

We would like to thank all our enthustiastic customers who met us in Pelsall and again on the BCNS Campaign Cruise to Walsall, and we look forward to meeting customers old and new ...

13 May 2021
Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb
As you may have guessed, this blog post is about Rhubarb. Technically speaking, Rhubarb as we know it today is a vegetable, but in practice it's fleshy stalk is used as a fruit. It's sharp and tangy so it needs to be cooked and have sugar added - perfect for jam as it happens!

Rhubarb is one ingredient which we are able to source almost entirely from our garden and those of our friends - once the plants have become established they seem to go bonkers, producing kilo after kilo of crunchy stalks ...

21 Feb 2021
Damson Jam
This winter has been very strange for us here at Wild Side. The cold winter months are usually a busy time as be make stock ready for the next season, but this year the preserving pans have rarely been seen, and the tang of vinegar has been notable by its absence. 

So it came as something of a relief to fire up the range and set about replenishing our stock of the ever popular Damson Jam using the frozen fruit we picked last September.

Damson has to be our favourite plum based jam, offering a ...

Trading in 2021
The continuing pandemic restrictions means that that there wil not be  many formal canal festivals in 2021.

In the absence of organised mass participation events we are planning to take the Jam Butty out during the summer months, but its likely we will confine our movements to the West Midlands. We plan to open for business at the weekends and we will publish our whereabouts on our "Location" page.

One of the lovely aspects of the 2020 trading season was that we had so much more time to spend ...

04 Apr 2020
All stocked up and nowhere to go
Well, its safe to say that 2020 isn't shaping up as we planned.

We were booked into eight or nine canalside events between May and September, some familiar and some new. In addition we had plans to take the Jam Butty on tour to the north west visiting Llangollen, Chester and the River Weaver in May and June, but sadly these plans have been thrown into disarray. 

Just as we finished making our Wild Garlic based products for the season the Carona Virus struck and everything came to a standstill ...

13 Dec 2018
Chuckleberry Jam
Its not every day you get to make jam out of a brand new fruit.

Whilst we like to include a wild ingredient in most of our products, we are nothing if not flexible. Every now and again we come across a source of something unusual and cant resist a bit of experimentation. As we were browsing one our suppliers websites we saw them advertising frozen Chuckleberries, a recent entrant to the fruit market being a cross between Redcurrant, Gooseberry and a Jostaberry (itself a cross between a Blackcurra ...

30 Nov 2018
Chilli for Apples
As the frosts of winter creep up on us its time to use up the last of the apples, picked at the end of our boating season in September.

For us, Autumn is chutney season, and anything else which uses large quanties of apples. This includes the various jellies we make, and one of my favourites is Chilli and Apple Jelly. Its probably no secret that I swim at the shallow end of the chilli pool, and whilst we sell huge quantities of Blow Your Head off Chilli Jam and the even hotter Scotch Bonnet Chutn ...

31 Aug 2018
Plum harvest disaster
2018 has been something of a plum harvest disaster.

We tend to spend much of July and August in the area to the north of Milton Keynes, a stretch of canal with a good number of usually prolific plum trees which provide enough foraging potential to make the plum jam we need to satisfy demand next season.

When we visited all our favourite trees this year we mostly came away empty handed, starting with the yellow and red Mirabelles, and then by the main plum harvest a few weeks later.

We are not sure ...

30 Apr 2018
Cordials curtailed
For several years we have made a range of popular cordials using foraged flavours, and sold these alongside our other preserves.

It is with some regret that for 2018 we have decided to stop making the cordials, which we know will disappoint some of our customers.

The problem is one of pasteurisation. If order to make cordials last 12 months they all have to be pasteurised, a process which involves them being immersed in near boiling water for a prescibed period. If you have a pasterising boiler th ...

31 Mar 2018
Snow stops play
What a frustrating March.

Three of our major product lines involve Wild Garlic, and these include Wild Garlic Vinegar, Wild Garlic Jelly and Carrot and Wild Garlic Chutney. Given the popularity of our Wild Garlic products we have to make a lot of them and we can only get cracking when the new shoots make their appearance in the woodlands where they grow. And we are time limited because we leave on our travels in mid April.

This year was the sourse of much frustration because the weather decided to ...

28 Feb 2018
A preserver's year - February
After January's marmalade frenzy you would be forgiven for expecting a quiet month in February - not so!

The problem with harvesting wild fruit is that, like busses, after a prolonged drought you get a glut. All the summer fruits come ripe together and no matter how hard you try you just cant keep up. The answer is freezers - three of them. At the end of last winter one of them died and we rather niavely thought we could manage with two. This plan hit the buffers as soon as the harvest started an ...

31 Jan 2018
A preserver's year - January
Lots of people see us out and about in the summer months, towing The Jam Butty slowly around the UK's canal system and dispensing jammy cheer wherever we go. Sometime you will find us moored up near some productive trees or bushes, turning the warm fruit into preserves which we can enjoy all year round, but people often ask what we do during the long cold winter months.

Our preserve making activity is actually a year round activity and we thought we would record a log of what we do through the se ...

19 Nov 2017
Messing with Medlars
Medlars are, without a  doubt, one of our favourite fruit and one which we use to make our award willing Medlar Jelly and their pulp is used to flavour some of our favourite chutneys.

Medlars are an ancient fruit which grow on attractive trees, which used to grace many gardens before the prudeish Victorians took exception to their less than lovely appearance. It's not for nothing that their country name is cat's arse fruit on account of their colour and splayed petals, and if that were not e ...

12 Nov 2017
Breast Cancer Care Jam
Throughout this year we have been selling Not Second Rate Raspberry & Rhubarb Jam to raise much needed funds for Breast Cancer Care.  When Helen was diagnosed with primary breast cancer in 2016, Breast Cancer Care provided her with information, specialist nursing support, camaraderie and friends.  So it was only natural that we would want to give something back.

Our Not Second Rate jam came about because raising awareness of secondary breast cancer has become something of passion fo ...

06 Nov 2017
Camping and Caravanning Club Magazine
While we were moored in Rugeley in September, we were interviewed by the lovely Ali Ray for the Camping and Caravanning Club magazine as part of their Eat Local series.  We had an entertaining afternoon where we plied Ali with mini tarts made with our Wild Pear & Chocolate Jam and talk endlessly about boating, cooking, jamming and life in general.

A few weeks later and we were delighted to discover her article was published in the November edition of the magazine and features our friends ...

05 Aug 2017
Bumper Crop of Blackberries
On arriving in Fenny Stratford on the Grand Union, we discovered that we had moored next to a bumper crop of blackberries. These berries were fat glistening jewels of spectacular quality so we set about picking with enthusiasm.  Just 30 minutes later we had enough for several batches of Blackberry Wine jam and therefore the next couple of days was mapped out for us.  This jam is cooked in red wine and then has more added just before potting so it's a delightfully boozy treat.  Per ...

13 Jul 2017
Afternoon Tea in Little Venice
While moored in Little Venice we decided it would be the ideal opportunity to catch up with friends and to host an Afternoon Tea Party in aid of Breast Cancer Care.  The event was delightful.  Helen baked frantically beforehand and fresh scones were laden with Wild Side jam and clotted cream, along with Strawberry Shortcakes, Chocolate Mousses and a selection sandwiches.  We took the opportunity to sell our Not Second Rate Raspberry & Rhubarb Jam which promotes Breast Can ...

03 Jul 2017
Ware Boat Festival
I dont like to guess just how many times how many times people have asked us where we are heading for next? Ware, I reply and fast as a shot the response is Where?

Well we can finally change the record, because Ware has been and gone. We have travelled a long way south from Birmingham covering the Oxford Canal and River Thames to reach London and then crossed the city to the East End where we joined the Lee Navigation which brought is to sunny Ware in Hertfordshire.

The Ware Boat Festival is mainl ...

30 May 2017
Elderflower Cordial
Elderflowers bobbing in the early summer breeze, wafting that distinctive aroma across the fields - its so good you wish you could bottle it.

Well you can, in the shape of Elderflower Cordial. This year the Elderflowers came on stream as we arrived in Thrupp in late May. And so, one hot windless day, we went in search of these fragrant flowers and returned with a good sized carrier bag which were promptly steeped in hot water and sugar and left to soak overnight.

The next day the resulting cordial ...

02 May 2017
Droitwich Festival 2017
Droitwich always holds a special place in our calendar as it is the first event of our trading season.

Its actually called St Richards Festival and is a town wide event which stretches for three days over the early May bank holiday weekend. Our main interest is the Canal Festival, but there is also a huge gathering of classic and vintage card plus a farmers market, so there realliy is something fore evereyone.

Being so early in the season the weather can be unpredicatable and this year it was a bi ...

22 Apr 2017
First Customers of the trip
Whilst most of our trade is undertaken at organised canal festivals we inevitably fall into conversation with people along the way and end up selling them our preserves.

We were just into our second day of travelling and, whilst filling the boat with water, a boat pulled in behind us and wanted to know all about the butty. Then they wanted to see the product list and before you could say Wild Side they had bought three jars and presents for their return home. Sloe Whisky Seville and Damson with G ...

17 Apr 2017
On your marks
Well this, as they say, is it.

Five years in the offing and finally the day arrives when we embark on a landmark phase of our lives. The world of regular paid work was concluded last wednesday and we start lives as proto pensioners - proto because The Captain, whilst being in receipt of a pension remains in denial about the passage of time and prefers to see it as a downshifting sort of career change. But who is he kidding?

The Jam Butty is loaded down with over 2000 jars of preserve, Wand'ring Ba ...

02 Apr 2017
Grasping the nettle
For most the stinging nettle hold little attraction and is best remembered as the painful landing zone for wobbling childhood cycle rides.

Nettles therefore have something of a bad name, but in foraging circles the flavours to be found form this most common weed are highly prized. Firstly there is the extremely tasty nettle soup, or nettles can be used make an excellent final finishing to beer as evidenced in Stinger Ale. But for us at Wild Side the stinging Nettle is best used in our highly popu ...

22 Mar 2017
Wild Garlic Vinegar
In some ways, Wild Garlic Vinegar couldnt be simpler to make, but you neets lots of patience.

Wild Garlic Vinegar is really nothing more than Cider Vinegar infused with Wild Garlic leaves. 

Pick the Wild Garlic and wash the leaves wery thoroughly in cold water.

Because we buy our Cider Vinegar in 25 ltr drums we save a couple each year and pour a measured quantity of vinegar into each. Then the washed leaves are added. Now this is where we have a bit of a snag - the neck of the drums is only a ...

15 Mar 2017
Wild Garlic Chutney
I love Wild Garlic, not only the taste but the sense of anticipation it brings.

You see, Wild Garlic is the first genuine foraged ingredient we gather in the springtime. It tends to grow in wet, shady conditions under tree cover and fortunately we have a huge area growing in the old limestone workings near our mooring. In fact, the whole Daw End canal was built to access the limestone, which was an essential ingredient in the local iron trade.

This patch of wild garlic is so big and so prolific th ...

03 Feb 2017
Cornering the market
Blow your head off Chilli Jam is one of our most potent and popular products, but annoyingly it contains no foraged ingredients. It is also one of the most expensive to make, but such is its popularity that it is a virtually permanent fixture on the Wild Side stall.

The reason for its expense is the volume of red peppers it contains - 2.5 kilos in every 24 jars. We therefore try to buy the peppers at the wholsesale market, but of this is impossible we will look for offers at Aldi or Lidl, a strat ...

14 Jan 2017
Seville Season
One of the really satisfying aspects of preserve making is the rythmic seasonality of the work.

As soon as the Christmas mayhem is put behind us we turn our attention to the first preserve making opportunity of the new year. Whilst we always like to include a foraged ingredient in our products, there is a noticable absence of native citrus fruits in the UK, so we have to rely on the annual influx of Seville Oranges as the core ingredient for our production.

Seville Oranges, as the name suggest, co ...

21 Dec 2016
Making plans for 2017
As the longest night passes our thoughts inevitably turn to the new boating season and trading options open to us.

For 2017 we are planning a big southerly loop taking in the Kennet and Avon Canal to Bath and Bristol and then down to London before returning to the Midlands in the autumn. 

We will spend the winter months making the most of the Seville Orange season, stocking up with our firm favourites: Sloe Gin Fizz Marmalade and Sloe Whisky Seville Marmalade, which will last us most of the s ...

25 Oct 2016
Hot Stuff
Chilli and Apple Chutney

Our Blow Your Hear Off Chilli Jam has been enduringly popular addition to our savoury range for years, but it has always stood alone and we have never had a proper hot Chutney to compliment it - till now!

With apples in plentiful supply we could afford to commit 4kg to each batch of tongue tingling preserve, and recipes were examined and modified. After some experimentation a desired balance was achieved, based around the fiery properties of Scotch Bonnet Chillies. Each ba ...

18 Oct 2016
Getting out and about
Trading on the BCN

The 2016 trading season has been notable for its limited boating movement!

Due to Helen's ill health the Jam Butty's sales activity has been much reduced, with just enough events attended to sell the existing stock. Our options were severely limited but we did what we could, linking in with each of the three BCNS Explorer Cruises hosted by Stuart and Marie Sherratt plus the organised events in striking range.

Andy dipped his toe into the solo trading experience at the one day Bro ...

22 Jun 2016
Failing to get a set
A very fitting title on the eve of Wimbledon dont you think!

I am not talking about tennis, but rather the dark arts of preserve making. With Helen out of action in the production department she has been tutoring her side kick (me) and I have been busy building up the stock ready for the run of local events which I will be attending later in the summer.

In the main my output has been of a good quality, passing the Wild Side seal of approval and being allowed onto the store room shelves. Such has b ...

24 May 2016
Wild Garlic Vinegar
Wild Garlic is one of our most popular foraged ingredients, probably beacuase it is generally recognised and therefore considered "safe"

Personally I have a particular affection for Wild Garlic (or Ransomes) 1. Because it tastes amazing and 2. Because its the first foraged ingredient of the new season.

Wild Garlic is usually identified by that heady early summer smell which wafts through woodland on the light breeze, but by then the flowers are out and the best of the season is long gone. For our ...

18 May 2016
A lesson in preserve making
I have always known my place in the WildSide scheme of things. I pick, I wash, I stone, I prepare, I label, I pack, I move, I sell....... but I dont to the magic bit and actually make our products - till now.

Actually, I did try my hand at Marmalade last year when Helen was poorly and even entered a jar of Andy's Seville Orange into the Marmalade awards, achieving a silver award which delighted me no end. However, that was exceptional and as a rule making is Helens province.

But things have been a ...

Changing Plans
Things continue to be a tad tricky health wise at Wild Side HQ.  Unfortunately, Helen's surgery did not resolve everything as hoped so a course of chemotherapy is about to be undertaken.  This means that we won't be doing any extended crusing this year at all and we are very sorry to say that most of our festivals for the summer have had to be cancelled.  We are hoping that Andy will be able to attend a couple of very local ones so will keep you posted on that.  For now, thou ...

06 Apr 2016
The 2016 season starts
There is something magical about March. The buds are starting to come out on the trees and underfoot the Wild Garlic is driving its way up to make the most of the light before the leaves come out and cover them with shade.

Wild Garlic is therefore the first foraged plant of the season and its always a pleasure to get out in the wood and pick a couple of carrier bags full. Its punget stuff which leaves my hands and the car with that rather pleasant odour of garlic, and the promise of tasty treats ...

Not quite what we planned ...
Best laid plans and all that?  As many you lovely people may have noticed, there's been a distinct lack of posts here recently. Unfortunately, I am in the middle of some health issues which mean that I have to take time off. Jam-making is sadly not on the agenda for the moment :( We have had to pull out of our first two festivals of 2016 (Droitwich 30th April - 2nd May) and the RCTA Floating Market at Fazeley (13th - 15th May). We sincerely hope things will improve quickly and that our ...

08 Jan 2016
New Year, New Boat??
From the look of this photo you'd be forgiven for thinking we were fitting out a whole new boat.  I say we, but I'm sure you all know my role is purely advisory!  The winter months are being spent with Andy in a flury of sawdust and varnish as he rips out old tired units and replaces them with fresh bright new ones.  Excitingly these ones are built to fit our Amazonian stature so hopefully there'll be no more backache while stirring jam from now on!

Replacing the kitchen has had th ...