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Nutbourne Fine Foods supplying homemade preserves to shops and markets across Sussex

PUBLISHED: 13:54 27 January 2014 | UPDATED: 13:55 27 January 2014

Kate Eastman

Claire Bridge of Nutbourne Fine Foods supplies local shops and farmers' markets with her range of homemade preserves

Claire BridgeClaire Bridge

Located at the foot of the South Downs in the heart of the West Sussex countryside is Nutbourne Fine Foods. They produce an exciting range of jams, marmalades, chutneys and relishes. Founder of the company, Claire Bridge, currently works as a sole trader with the help of her husband Duncan, a trained chef by trade.

“I started the business in 2010 when I was looking to return to work after starting a family,” explains Claire. “I found it difficult to find work that fitted in with family life, especially as my husband was doing split shifts as a chef. I therefore decided to start my own business, so that I could choose my own hours.” 
Claire has always had a passion for cooking, and she and Duncan felt that the majority of preserves on shop shelves were not very distinctive.

Claire started selling at local farmers’ markets, with great success, and the company was soon supplying local village shops. “Since then things have grown again, and I now supply farm shops, delis and country stores across the south east,” says Claire. “We have just started to work with a couple of distributors, Local to You and J P Turner Food Service, who both supply trade customers across the south.”

Claire uses local ingredients wherever possible, including a range of tomatoes from Nutbourne Nursery. “This allows us to produce some unique chutneys, like our Tiger Tomato chutney and Green Tiger Tomato Chutney. The tomatoes are ripened on the vine ensuring they have the best flavour. All of our products are produced in small batches and using traditional methods, to ensure that homemade taste.” But her favourite of all her products is the strawberry jam. “It is a vibrant red colour and truly reminds you of summer, even on the coldest of winter mornings.”

There are currently 23 products on the Nutbourne Fine Foods website. They also have a Christmas Chutney, Boxing Day Chutney and Lemon Curd available over the Christmas period.

“We are working in partnership with the Hammerpot Brewer to produce a Sussex Beer Mustard, which has just been released for sale. This is produced using their Bottlewreck Porter,” says Claire. “We are also working on a Sussex Porter Chutney, which will be released for sale in the coming weeks. We have a selection of hampers, which include other local producers’ merchandise, such as cheeses, biscuits and wine from the award-winning vineyard next door, Nutbourne Vineyards.

“Our range of freshly prepared sandwiches, quiches, sausages rolls and cheese and chive rolls are available from Scats Countrystores in Billingshurst, as well as other local shops. They will also be available to purchase from the Big Barn website in the coming weeks, for direct sale to the public,” says Claire.

Every week Claire cooks her produce freshly to order. Everything is prepared by hand and cooked in small batches to keep the homemade taste. “This allows us to produce a range that you could have cooked yourself at home. By increasing the size of the batch, you lose the authenticity of the homemade product. If the batches are too big, it alters the texture of the product, as it has to be cooked for longer,” explains Claire. “The best-selling products in our range are: Strawberry Jam, Seville Orange Marmalade, Caramelised Red Onion Chutney, Classic Apple Chutney, Butternut Squash and Tomato Chutney. The spicy ones sell really well too.”

Last year, Nutbourne Fine Foods sold around 6,000 jars. “We are already well ahead of that this year and growing fast. My youngest started school this September, which has allowed me to expand the business a lot quicker than I was able to when he was at home.”

In the future, Nutbourne Fine Foods would like to secure a larger market share: “Our company is growing rapidly and I would like it to keep increasing, perhaps by supplying supermarkets when the time is right – but who knows what the future holds! I would like to get the company as big as I can without jeopardising the ethos of the product, which is to keep the quality to the standard of something produced in your kitchen at home."

If you would like to try Claire’s products, order online at www.bigbarn.co.uk
Nutbourne Fine Foods, Fields Farm, Gay Street, Nutbourne, West Sussex RH20 2HH; 01798 812267; sales@nutbournefinefoods.co.uk

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