Founded by Elspeth Biltoft in 1989, Rosebud Preserves produces some of the finest preserves and pickles using quality-sourced ingredients, authentic techniques and traditional recipes.
The name ‘Rosebud Preserves’ originates from Elspeth’s home and production area at Rosebud Farm, a 19th Century farmstead right beside the River Burn and surrounded by the stunning landscape of the North Yorkshire Dales.
Preserving food has long since been a tradition to savour the best of local and quality foods out of season. Rosebud Preserves’ philosophy is to focus on using fresh, seasonal ingredients in their products, sourced regionally or bought-in from suppliers further a field that have the same values as Rosebud Preserves. Over the decades, the team at Rosebud Preserves have created long-standing relationships with many of their suppliers.
For example, Rosebud Preserves sources new season rhubarb locally from ‘The Rhubarb Triangle’ in West Yorkshire, damsons from a traditional orchard in the Lyth Valley in Cumbria, and freshly grown herbs in the Vale of York. The ingredients that they source from abroad are always chosen carefully, such as for their popular Seville Marmalade, Rosebud Preserves uses fresh Seville oranges sourced from Ave Maria Farm, an organic certified farm in Spain and a supplier they have been working with since 1990.
Foraging wild ingredients to use in their products has always been a significant part of Rosebud Preserves. There is something wonderfully profound and satisfying foraging wild foods from the land that are healthy and delicious. Come the season, the Rosebud Preserves team are out foraging the surrounding landscape for elderflowers and gooseberries to make their Gooseberry & Elderflower Jam, a variety of apples and crab apples to make their Hot Apple Chutney and Wild Crab-apple Jelly, and for locally gathered herbs like rosemary and mint, the latter to use in their Mint Jelly. They also source rowanberries from a local plantation in Wensleydale to make their Wild Rowan Jelly.
John Barley is the head chef at Rosebud Preserves. He understands the growing of fruit and vegetables and has refined the recipes over the years with Rosebud Preserves, producing award-winning products.
We sat down to have a chat with Elspeth about Rosebuds & the amazing work that they do.
Tell us a little about Rosebud Preserves?
‘Rosebud Preserves has two sites, the first being Rosebud Farm, where the products are made, and the second being our packaging area in nearby Masham, which we moved into in 2017. Rosebud Farm, we always say, is high up in the easterly end of Wensleydale, specifically the Burn Valley. Originally built in the 1830s, the farm is now a small collection of converted barns. The view from the farm and making rooms looks out onto woodland and pasture, and towards the end of summer you’ll see a purple haze of heather on the hills, which is always nice!’
How did Rosebud Preserves start?
‘The company was founded on my love for the outside and using wild foods, both very much inspired by my father who was a gardener. It all started at home on a small gas ring and a big fat pan that was always boiling with something. For the first month, I sold a few jars to local shows, but I soon moved to the farm’s barns, where, with the help of a rural grant, I was able to convert into a small food preparation area, equipped with two large pans, a prep table and a jar washing machine. I always think that we generate a huge amount of product considering the size of our small setup. It’s a labour of love I can tell you!’
How is Seville Orange Marmalade made?
‘We source our Seville oranges from Ave Maria Farm, an organic farm in Mairena del Alcor in Seville that has traditional orange tree orchards. The farm is run by mother and daughter duo, who we have been working with since 1990. It was my husband, who originally found Ave Maria’s oranges in a wholesale market in Leeds. They were delicious and organic so I’ve just bought them ever since. Now we buy 3-5 tonnes of Seville oranges per year, ordering in December and arriving the first week of January.
Once we have the oranges at the farm, each orange is washed, dried and has their stalk removed. Then they are flash-frozen to keep fresh. When it’s time to make our Seville Orange Marmalade, we cook the oranges from frozen – always, I find, a successful way of producing marmalade!
We cook the oranges for around two hours until tender in a specific amount of water and with a muslin bag full of coriander, which enhances the citrus note. Once the preserves team are happy with the tenderness, the heat is turned off and the mixture is left to cool. The oranges are then taken out of the cooking liquid, peeled and de-piped – the flesh is kept and the peel cut finely. With the remaining cooking liquid, unrefined cane sugar is added and dissolved on a very low heat – we are very sensitive to cook the sugar gently to prevent crystallisation. Once the sugar is dissolved, the fruit – flesh and cut peel – is placed back into the mix and simmered until the peel is really tender. Towards the end of the cooking, we’ll add freshly squeezed lemon juice and boil quickly to reach the setting point. We don’t use additives or preservatives or even pectin, only working with the natural pectin in the fruit, and of course, the lemon juice. The mixture is then left for 20 minutes to stand and cool, after which it is jarred up and ready to be sold. Any off-peelings from the make are sent to make biogas, a renewable energy source that is environmentally-friendly.
We always work towards making a ‘softly set’ marmalade, which is all about finding the right balance between preserving the product and keeping the product fresh. We are really pleased to have won a ‘Gold’ at The 2021 Marmalade Awards with our Seville Orange Marmalade, a competition that received over 3,000 entries from the UK and 42 countries around the world.’
Making partners in the right places
Pipers Farm & Rosebud Preserves go as well together as, well, cheese & chutney. In Elspeth's own words, 'Pipers Farm has integrity, something I greatly admire. Here at Rosebud Preserves, we make products that are constantly improving, and I see that with Pipers Farm. They have the same values as us, honest products and great service."
Rosebuds shares the same values as Pipers Farm, as Elspeth herself puts "a love of generous quantities, robust flavours, regional and national raw ingredients and named varieties wherever possible and a classic presentation which speaks volumes for the quality of products."
You can shop the full selection of Rosebud Preserves here.