Spreading gin and tonic key to success of Fermanagh marmalades in national awards
Fancy something with a bit of ‘a kick’ for spreading on your toast at breakfast or on scones for afternoon tea?
Fermanagh artisans Keith and Suzanne Livingstone can certainly help with something tasty and a bit different.
The enterprising husband and wife team has just won prestigious national awards for exotic jams such as gin and tonic marmalade and mojito marmalade. They’ve also vodka marmalade, Irish whiskey marmalade and strawberry dairquiri.
Based at tiny Monea village, six miles from Enniskillen, they run Baked in Belfast, an artisan business specialising in exotic jams, chutneys and relishes which have landed a host of awards in major competitions in Britain.
Suzanne also handcrafts quirky and decorative pottery and has taught the skill to students here and abroad. The small craft business began in Belfast and also included a small cafe before the couple decided to move to the country.
The most recent recognition for the talented couple’s jams came last week in the highly competitive World Marmalade Awards held annually at Dalemain Estate in Cumbria, collecting silver medals for gin and tonic and mojito marmalades and three commendations for calypso, cranberry and orange, and cinnamon marmalades.
There were medals too for other local makers of unusual jams Burren Balsamic of Richhill in Armagh for its blood orange marmalade and Annie’s Delights of Portglenone in Co Antrim for Seville orange marmalade. Both have also won UK Great Taste Awards.
The World Marmalade Awards says the coronavirus lockdowns have led to a renewed interest in marmalade making at home. Not just for celebrities like movie star and model Liz Hurley, but across the UK! New comers have registered a host of entries in The Rathbones First Timers category. All proceeds from the Homemade Awards go to support a local charity. Support for the event has also been provided by Fortnum and Mason, the iconic food hall in London.
Suzanne welcomes the latest awards for their unusual jams. “It’s always immensely encouraging to win such recognition in Britain, probably our biggest marketplace outside Northern Ireland,” she says. “We’ve always done well in the world awards and our gin and tonic marmalade in particular is among the most ‘decorated’ of our jams in these influential and other awards. We’ve also done well, furthermore, in the UK Great Taste Awards.”
The small company has now won almost 40 medals, including the gin and tonic, in the annual awards held in England’s Lake District.
Established in 2011, Baked in Belfast now supplies many delis here and in Britain as well as ‘corporates’ such as Hastings Hotels and Tayto Castle. The quirky jams are created by Keith in a converted outhouse at the family home in Fermanagh.
Suzanne says the unusual flavour creations set the small business apart. Everything they produce, she adds, is made by them in Fermanagh using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. The ethos of the small business is based on being handmade. The pottery is also handcrafted and hand painted.
Baked in Belfast was also the first local company chosen by Theo Paphitis of Dragons’ Den for his coveted Sunday Business prize. He tweeted about the business to his half a million followers, providing great profile for the company.
The artisan enterprise began its business journey by taking part in craft fairs and markets in Belfast and further afield in Northern Ireland.
The quirky World Marmalade Awards were founded in 2005 by Jane Hasell-McCosh with the initial idea of preserving, growing and widening one of the most British of customs – making marmalade. They have gone on to generate a huge worldwide following.
The artisan awards promote small scale marmalade makers using the open-pan method. Judged by an influential panel, these awards put marmalade makers on the map, and winners can display their gold, silver or bronze award roundel on their jars, a huge marketing gift that declares their marmalade one of the best quality preserves in the world.
Suzanne says winning UK Great Taste Awards for their jams was another boost for the business. “The Great Taste Awards are regarded as the Foodie Oscars and attract entries from across the globe. We were delighted to have been recognised for our unique pernod and blackcurrant jam, a combination the judges felt ‘shouldn’t work, but really does’. “They suggested that while this would be delicious on a scone, it would also work well in a savoury environment, perhaps even with the Christmas turkey.
“As we market ourselves as ‘happy pottery and quirky jams’ we are really delighted to receive these awards, from the industry experts, proving that although we have a fun image and pretty design, it’s all based on producing top quality food for consumers.”
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