Sometimes there’s nothing better than a slice of toast or a scone that’s liberally coated in a hearty layer of sticky, sweet jam, especially if it’s packed with fresh fruit.
This quintessentially British tradition historically dates back to long before the invention of refrigerators, when preserving food meant all the difference at those times when food was scarce. Today, jam is less about survival, and more about the taste and enjoyment we get from unique and flavoursome fruit creations.
The jams you buy in the shops are usually too full of sugar and artificial flavours, so if you’re a big jam fan, and want to try a new hobby, why not try your hand at making a variety of tasty preserves?
If you want to get in to making your own jam, there are literally thousands of recipes and guides online which can help you decide on the flavours you want to create, as well as illustrate the jam-making process. Once you get going though you’ll undoubtedly want to push things further and really get experimenting.
If however, one day you find that your newfound enthusiasm keeps growing and you’d like to maybe start selling your jam for profit, there are a number of factors that you need to bear in mind. As with any business, no matter the size, if you’re selling any food for consumption, you must comply with the rules and regulations of the Food Safety Act 1990, which covers all legislation regarding food.
What you need to know
The following guidelines don’t apply if you’re offering up your jam as gifts to friends and family, but if you intend to sell it, you have to do your homework. Firstly, you need to register the premises at which the jam is made, even if this is at home. Registration applies to all catering premises, and this includes your own kitchen. If that’s where you’re making and packaging your jam, it needs to be registered as an official food premise. And if you are teamed up with someone and split production between your homes, theirs will need to be registered as well.
Registration is free, and you can do this via the environmental services at your local authority. You can find yours by following this link.
You also need to register as being self-employed, you can find more information about this via this link to the Gov.uk website. This needs to happen so that you can register for VAT if needs be, as well as advice on how to correctly keep records of all income and expenses. Who would have thought selling jam could get so complicated? The complexity of what will be required from you greatly depends upon how far you’re pushing your jam business. For example, if you’re just selling a few jars here and there at the local country fete, then the process is somewhat simpler than if you’re trying to get shelf space at a national supermarket.
Safety and hygiene
The purpose of registering your premises is that because you want to officially produce food for consumption, you will be subject to inspections from the Food Standards Agency (FSA). During these inspections, not only will they ensure that the food you’re producing is safe to eat, they’ll also be checking your premises, how you work, the kinds of food you make or prepare, as well as your food safety management systems you have in place.
In terms of food safety and hygiene, here are the ‘Safer food, better business’ advice packs from the FSA. These cover everything from showing how to comply with food hygiene regulations, to how to save wastage and improve cleanliness.
Other absolute essentials to keep in mind
One of the most important factors when preparing food to sell on to others is how products are labelled. This still applies to jam, and inspectors will look to see how you jam is described, and how clearly the ingredients are displayed. This is really important because of allergies, and a customer purchasing something that could be potentially harmful without knowing is very serious.
Another important issue has to do with the actual jars you’ll be putting your jam in. Since your jam is being sold (and not given as gifts), the snappily titled EC Regulations 1935/2004 and 2023/2006 state that you have to use brand new jars each and every time. So it’s no good thinking environmentally friendly and offering a reward scheme to customers who bring theirs back; it’s got to be a new jar every time.
Hopefully this makes things a little easier for you as you venture into the world of jam making entrepreneurialism. For a more in-depth look at the ins and outs of what you need to know when starting your own catering business, take at look at this booklet from the FSA.