With nothing more than a love for producing jams and marmalades, Jackie MacIntyre started her own business, Bourtree Jams and Preserves in Alyth, more or less by accident.
Earlier this year, in just her second year of business, she won two gold, two silver and a bronze award at the World Marmalade Awards.
So how did it all begin?
“I was taking a breather after leaving the family business that I had worked in for most of my working life,” she explains.
“I had always wanted to try making marmalade, jams and chutneys but never seemed to find the time.
“From my very first batch of marmalade I was absolutely addicted not just to making it but to eating it!” she smiles.
Trialling new recipes and styles, Jackie found she was making more marmalade and jam than her family and friends could cope with, so in July 2018 a friend suggested she could try selling it.
“I started off by created a Facebook page, put a selection of jars and an honesty box on my front doorstep, and from there things started to grow,” she says.
Jackie, who uses the traditional open pan method to make small batches, describes the process of making her award-winning artisan marmalade.
“Start with a good recipe – it can be trial and error depending on what your tastes are,” she advises.
“Marmalade can’t be hurried, it’s the attention to detail that makes what you do stand out.
“On day one the fruit is washed, juiced and the peel is hand cut and then left to soak overnight.
“On day two you gently simmer the peel in the juices and water for about two hours, before adding the sugar and bringing it to a rolling boil to produce the beautiful pots of sunshine!”
Jackie takes care to source her ingredients locally where she can, using fruit farms and market gardens.
“We’re so lucky in this area to be right in the heart of Scotland’s berry industry and surrounded by the most beautiful fruits,” she observes.
So what makes a good marmalade?
“Fresh ingredients and don’t rush the process,” says Jackie. “I think a marmalade should have a jelly-like consistency and not be too set or runny, but I know people have different tastes here.
“I also try to keep ingredients to a minimum so that the fruit is what you’re really tasting, and so I don’t use any gelling agents, colourings or added pectin in any of my preserves.”
As Jackie sources all of her berries locally, the jam she makes is completely seasonal.
“I love trying new recipes, but the old favourites tend to be the most popular: Seville orange marmalade, raspberry and strawberry jam, Perthshire berries jam, Beetroot chutney and lemon curd,” she says.
Jackie reveals she was quite emotional when she won at the awards.
“I cried, a lot! I really could not believe that I had won two golds in just my second year entering the awards,” she says.
A typical day will see an early start for Jackie: “I start with prepping fruit and jars and my first pot will usually be on by about 7.30am,” she says.
“On an average day I probably make about four batches, depending on what I’m making – marmalade and chutney take a little longer to produce than a jam.
“Afternoons are spent labelling, making deliveries to local retailers or picking up some fresh fruit from a local farm,” she continues.
“Weekends are spent at local markets, such as Perth Farmers Market, meeting customers and chatting jam all day.”
Idyllic as this sounds she admits that it can occasionally feel a little overwhelming.
“Doing it on your own means you are the producer, salesperson, bookkeeper, delivery driver and everything else on top,” she says. “It’s a steep learning curve, but I’m loving every minute.
“I now have somebody come in to help with the prepping and deliveries, which is amazing. I’m hoping to increase production and move into wedding favours and increase postal orders.
“I just love everything about what I do,” she beams.
“The cooking and preparation process is very therapeutic and, of course, it’s just wonderful when people like what you’re producing.”