My passion for preserving started by accident 1987 when I was presented with 180kg of Early Prolific Plums, the crop from one tree in our cottage garden in Worcestershire. Bountiful harvests of damsons, apples as well as other fruit and vegetables sparked a life-long interest in making jams, jellies, marmalades, vinegar preserves and liqueurs.
Women’s Institute courses in Preservation and Judging equipped me with the skills to judge, enter and win competitions. In January 2008, I read an article by Dan Lepard about The Marmalade Awards. A photo of a previous winner encouraged me to enter. My Seville orange marmalade won its class and “Best of the Best”. Other competition success has followed, notably Fortnum and Mason’s Chutney Challenge in 2012 and the Westmorland Damson Association Jam Competition in April 2014.
When I first started preserving, sources for recipes were limited to a few books and magazines as the Internet did not exist. In 2011 I self-published First Preserves, the book I wanted back in the early days. It is a practical, beautifully illustrated, step-by-step guide to making traditional preserves with authentic recipes. I have recently published enhanced ebooks, First Preserves: Jams, First Preserves: Marmalades, First Preserves: Chutneys and Fruit Curds:Make and Bake, they all include “HowTo” videos and other features rarely found in publications. All five books have detailed help for entering competitions.
I am at the centre of a quiet revolution in preserving. Chefs and artisan producers are developing the creative potential of preserves. In recent years, a shrinking economy has stimulated home cooks to look for the best recipes and methods for preserving seasonal produce. One of the casualties of this upsurge in interest is a shift away from developing recipes that are scientifically balanced towards those that simply seek to be different. I promote the maintenance of traditional preserving methods, to produce mature chutneys, not short-keeping relishes, as well as sweet preserves, jams, jellies, and marmalades with a shelf life of at least a year, without any artificial additives. In October 2013, with the help of my MP Tessa Munt, we were successful in persuading HM Government to abandon their attempt to de-regulate the proportions of ingredients in Fruit Curds and Mincemeat, which was part of the proposed Jam and Similar Products (England) Regulations 2013.
I am in demand as a tutor at cookery schools and demonstrator at food events in the UK and as a judge at international competitions. As the Jam Mistress or Vivien Lloyd, I have been featured in the Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, BBC The One Show, BBC Radio4 Food Programme, ITV Alan Titchmarsh Show, and have been interviewed on BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans and BBCSomerset Emma Britton’s Breakfast Shows.