It was like as if we were flipping through the pages from our childhood nursery books. We still remember reading ‘Amelia Jane’ by Enid Blyton where she would sit with her toys having scones, jams and cookies complimenting her imaginary tea in those tiny teacups.
When we saw those gorgeous bottles on The Gourmet Jar’s official Facebook page, we were instantly transported to our childhood days.
Way back in college, we learnt the techniques of preparing jams, jellies and marmalades during Food Technology class. We’ve preserved our journals even today as it’s got all the gyan of making the perfect homemade jam!
Until recently when we lived in the quaint hill town of Coonoor, we would often treat ourselves to homemade guava jelly and Indian plum preserve by Gray’s Hill.
But when we spotted the delightfully packed jam bottles, without further ado, we caught up with the founder of The Gourmet Jar, 32-year-old Apeksha Jain a Delhi-based French teacher and a food blogger – interesting profile, isn’t it?
See, The Lifestyle Portal always manages to find such interesting and inspirational people to talk to and share their success story with the world. So here’s a story of The Gourmet Jar while it celebrates its very first birthday!
It all started when Apeksha was living in Paris for a year with her husband and during their stay she discovered a whole new world of artisanal jams that were poles apart from the synthetic, sugary stuff that she was used to in India.
“We tried a fresh Banana jam on a trip to Burgundy and for my husband, it was love at first bite. After moving back to Delhi, he mentioned several times how he wished we got something like that in India,” recalls Apeksha.
Being passionate about cooking and experimenting, Apeksha thought to herself that it can’t be that hard to make a Banana Jam, so she got down to trying out her hand at making jams, and it worked really well.
“Eventually I tried more flavours, and friends and family starting raving about them. So seeing a gap in the Indian market when it came to quality jams that were innovative in terms of flavour, I decided to start my own line of jams and preserves with an initial investment of Rs. 2 lakhs and so The Gourmet Jar was born in April 2012.”
French was something she started learning during her college holidays, and she enjoyed it so much that she kept going at it for a few years.
She further adds, “After finishing my Post Graduation in Mass Communications, I realised that I didn’t want a corporate job working long hours, and decided to teach French. Food blogging was something that started while living in Paris, as I had access to some amazing and new ingredients and it was a delight to experiment with them. I started cooking in my teenage years and the time I spent in Paris helped me grow my cooking skills by leaps and bounds.”
One of the biggest challenges feels Apeksha is making people understand why a jar of handmade jam with no preservatives and pure fruit is much more expensive than a regular one on the store shelves.
She shares, “I find that the best way to overcome this is by getting them to taste the jams by The Gourmet Jar; because as soon as someone samples the jams, they realise how different it is compared to others.”
Another challenge is educating people to use jams differently. Indians are so used to bread-jam-butter that it’s hard for them to know how versatile a jam can be.
“I try to do my best in terms of posting content on my Facebook page that shows people what all you can do with a jam; and I also conduct a lot of events such as breakfasts, high teas, wine & cheese and jam pairings which showcase jams and preserves in a new light,” explains Apeksha.
What makes The Gourmet Jar unique is firstly the flavour combinations. Apeksha tries to be very innovative in pairing fruits with spices and scents. She rarely creates a plain fruit jam.
“I have flavours like Mango Jalapeno, Banana Rum, Gooseberry Cinnamon, Apple Pie, Mulled Wine, Strawberry Chocolate, Orange Whiskey and so on and the best part is that our jams are purely seasonal. So there are new flavours on offer every few months,” smiles Apeksha.
She further adds, “The USP of my brand is that everything is handmade in small batches, using absolutely no preservatives or chemicals, and less sugar, thus creating a product that is pure and full of flavour.” So what are you waiting for? Dig into that bottle of happiness right away!
Memories of Artisanal Jams in France
We wanted to know more about the artisanal jams during her stay in France and she tells us, “Growing up in India, we were used to jam being a bright pink sugary spread. Even though eventually we started getting imported jams which were somewhat better than that, jams had never become something that anyone paid attention to.”
In France, where jams and preserves are a major component in everyday food, people consider it a gourmet food product. The artisanal stuff there is very pure, fresh, full of flavour, and free of chemicals. What excited her most was that food was given a lot of importance there, and every little thing mattered.
How does she create magic and know just the combination that could work, Apeksha shares, “A lot of experimenting which is guided by my instincts. I also get inspired by the occasion of a particular food item. Like the Mango Jalapeno Jam was inspired from a Mango Salsa that I had. I created the Mulled Wine Jam when I wanted to make something that smelt like “Christmas-in-a-jar”. I wanted to do something special for Valentines Day, and since strawberries and chocolate are a classic romantic food combination, I came up with a Strawberry chocolate mint spread for that occasion.”
We are already floating and dreaming about all these vibrant yummy jam preserves, aren’t you?
Wooing the Indian palate
“People are definitely more open to experimenting, since they are travelling more and more these days, and are exploring a world of cuisines apart from Indian, they are increasingly cooking non-Indian cuisines at home these days, and there are several ways to enhance your dishes using jams,” explains Apeksha.
She mentions that serving a cheese platter to guests at home is becoming very common now, and a lot of people have also started realising how adding a jam on their platter adds that extra flavour.
“People are even starting to use my jams with Indian food. I’ve had customers who’ve spread Mulled Wine jam on a khakra, and eaten my Mango Jalapeno Jam with rotis,” giggles Apeksha.
The Gourmet Jar products and price range
If you’re wondering how much a bottled delight costs, the price for a 250 gms jar ranges from Rs 250 to Rs350. She also has a set of 3 jars (125 gms each) which is priced Rs 600 and the flavours range from Mango Jalapeno Jam, Mango Cinnamon Rum Jam, Orange Apricot Brandy Marmalade, Banana Rum Jam, Fig Cointreau Jam, to Classic Strawberry Jam and much more.
For the weight watchers, there’s news, “Even though jams have a high sugar content, these are healthier than butter; and I use only half the sugar that is normally used in commercial jams. Also, the fact that it has no chemicals makes it better for you. I do have a no-sugar-added jam for those who want a healthier option but for the kids, there are sweeter jam varieties like Banana Rum and Apple Pie,” smiles Apeksha.
“It’s been an incredible journey. I started from home with 3 flavours, delivering directly to customers. Last October I opened a store in Shahpur Jat and have also been retailing to other organic and natural stores in the city. I have created more than 20 unique flavours over the past 2 years, and now I’m in the process of setting up my commercial kitchen in Noida,” concludes Apeksha.
And what do you know; famous personalities such as Shreya Ghoshal, Chetan Seth, and Prernia Qureshi are fans of The Gourmet Jar.
We fell in love with the bottles and drooled over their lip-smacking range of jams and preserves – now it’s your turn to do the same!
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