Homemade jams on a big scale
Major manufacturer Mackays sticks to the traditional methods used by smaller producers in Angus
What says 'home' more than a bubbling pan of fruit and sugar? It is not only the scene at the Mackays factory near Arbroath – the only major jam manufacturer to still use all copper pans – but in small kitchens across Angus.
Whether a cottage industry or a major player, when it comes to jam, traditional methods still prevail. Rochelle Grant, Marketing Manager at Mackays, says copper pans are best because the metal conducts heat well, meaning the jam can easily be brought to a rolling boil and therefore set better. 'It's how jam has always been made and what gives the best flavour,' she says.
Mackays have also kept the same recipes for their favourite jams and use local ingredients wherever they can, especially the famous Angus soft fruits. However, their Mrs Bridges range in particular mixes in new flavours including ginger malt whisky.
The smaller players in the area can compete in unusual flavours such as the strawberry and pink champagne made by Isabella's Preserves, based in Edzell, and Norma's Homemade Preserves, available at local farmers' markets.
Married duo Sarah and Sandy Gray of Aberfeldy Oatmeal inherited their 40-year-old recipe for marmalade from a company they took over in 2001, based on a pulp from imported Seville oranges. Its attraction, says Sandy, is the particular bitterness of the oranges coupled with enough sugar to offer a very balanced flavour. Under Sarah's name, they also produce a marmalade infused with an eight-year-old malt whisky and a new three-fruit marmalade incorporating orange, lemon and grapefruit. Altogether they produce around ten thousand jars a year, and have since moved into an extensive range of popular jams as well.