Word of mouth: Fruity Foods marmalade

Date:14-02-2014 08:58:37 read:2

Word of mouth: Fruity Foods marmalade

Gary Hill launched Fruity Foods in 2009 making traditional marmalade using local ingredients

Marmalade man: Gary Hill says he makes a 'good, old-fashioned' product Photo: Ben Quinton

Raised on his grandmother’s cheese and chutney sandwiches as a schoolboy and with parents who ran a bistro, it is hardly surprising that Gary Hill has wound up in the food industry running, among other things, an award-winning marmalade company. Now in his early 40s, he is the head chef at the Georgian House in Haslemere, Surrey, and, given the notorious hours and staggering levels of stress endured by most chefs, many might think that this was quite enough of a career in itself. But as Hill rather bafflingly explains, he wanted 'something to do in my spare time, so I thought I would try making and selling chutney.’

He did some research in local farmers’ markets and delis and launched a little company making chutneys and jams in 2009, one of his first products being his grandmother’s apple and sultana chutney. Marmalade is the latest addition to his repertoire, 'another thing that comes in a jar,’ as he puts it. It was a disaster to start with as the first three or four batches he made didn’t set. Eventually, he worked out how to do it and now, under the name Fruity Foods, produces eight different flavours including the orange and ginger, and lemon versions that he started with.


Although the chutney is now made in a unit in Petersfield, astonishingly the marmalade is produced by Hill on a stove in his kitchen in Church Crookham, Hampshire, with help from his partner, Nicki Smith. His marmalade has not only won coveted gold stars at the Great Taste Awards, but was also runner-up at the World’s Original Marmalade Awards at Dalemain mansion in Cumbria in 2012 and subsequently stocked at Fortnum and Mason. 'Fortnum’s wanted 200 jars,’ Hill says, 'and as I produce my marmalade in small batches – 35 jars at a time – it took me three days to make their order.’

Anyone searching for the perfect marmalade for their breakfast toast will be thrilled to discover Hill’s. It has exactly the right consistency and colour and a really terrific flavour with lashings of peel evenly distributed. It looks and tastes homemade without putting you to all the trouble of making it yourself.


There are two ways to make marmalade, Hill says. 'One by chopping the fruit up first, the other, which is what I do, by boiling the whole fruit first for about an hour, then chopping it up, getting rid of the pips, and reboiling the remainder with sugar.’ This means he doesn’t have to use pectin as a setting agent. 'Mine’s a thick marmalade,’ he says, 'because it’s made with whole fruit, no pectin. The flavour is better. It’s good, old-fashioned marmalade.’

Hill says with some pride that he started his company without borrowing a penny, and intends to carry on that way. 'I do things one at a time,’ he says. 'The next thing is to get a new labelling machine, then I’ll sort out the website.’

At present he does the labelling and dispatching himself, supplying about a dozen shops and farmers’ markets locally, as well as any larger orders that come along. 'I’ve worked my way up from one 6ft table at the farmers’ markets to two, and I get loads of returning customers.

After a break last year, he is returning to the Marmalade Awards this spring with two marmalades, lemon and ginger and St Clements (orange and lemon), and with a bit of luck Fortnum’s will be on the phone again shortly afterwards, demanding a further 200 jars. 'I can only hope,’ Hill says, 'but right now, I’ve got to go back into the kitchen and make some pink grapefruit.’

*Fruity Foods marmalade, £3.25 for 340g available from

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