As much as I try not to lust after PG Tips and Heinz beans, there are certain things that invoke home and rose-tinted memories. We all love living here in Portugal with the wonderful climate and healthy life but just occasionally it’s ok to be a little bit homesick.
Just before Christmas, I saw an ad on Facebook for homemade lemon and orange marmalade which instantly took me back to breakfast at Grandmas – dippy eggs and soldiers and tea from a proper teapot. The marmalade here just isn’t quite the same and I knew how happy him indoors would be with some proper English breakfast marmalade.
I contacted the lovely lady, Alison, and popped by to buy a few jars. I ended up staying for about three hours, chatting, and then she opened a bottle of vodka so it wasn’t quite Jam and Jerusalem but more a case of Marmalade and Moscow Mules!
Alison told me her fascinating story about how the family ended up in the Algarve; a fantastic adventure for kids and a wonderful new business has emerged through necessity and resourcefulness. I’ll let Alison tell you in her own words.
In 2019, after 20 years of living in the tropics of northern Australia, my family (partner Mark, Tom 18, and Ruby 16) and I relocated to Portugal. We wanted to be closer to family in the UK and show the kids Europe. We chose Portugal because it was warm and a good location to set up our guided fishing charter business.
In Australia, we operated fishing charters from a small town close to the Great Barrier Reef, north of Cairns. We had 10 acres, built our own house, and drove 330km for the shops, cinema, and dentist. The area we lived in was monsoonal and during the wet, it was not unusual to be cut off from supply lines. I became good at bulk shopping, always had a well-stocked pantry, and could make everything from scratch. Swapping produce for fish kept us well supplied in fruit and vegies. I have always made jams, preserves, and cordials. Paw paws, passion fruit, dragon fruit, and bananas were never in short supply.
For our fishing charter business to work here in the Algarve we needed to be close to the sea. After much looking around and renting we bought our little house (in need of large renovating) with 1.5 acres just out of Fuseta. We are surrounded by farming land but our land hasn’t been cultivated for many years but the soil is so rich and fertile with its own water source.
I enjoy being in the garden and love to grow food. We have established citrus, almonds, pomegranates, figs, nespres, and olives here as well as what I grow in the vege patch. I dislike waste and made cordial and marmalades last year to use up some of the citruses we have. As I am still learning what to grow, (frosts are a shock) I ended up with too much of everything so I pickled, preserved, made chili sauce, and filled the freezer with blanched veggies.
Rosella is a species of hibiscus and jam made from the flowers is a Queensland favorite with a flavor similar to rhubarb. The flowers are also preserved in syrup and added to champagne for something a little different. Last year I successfully grew rosellas here in the Algarve and this year, due to popular demand, we will be planting more to transform into cordial and jam.
Just before Christmas, I posted on Facebook amongst friends to see if anyone wanted marmalade and it was an absolute hit. Repeat orders have led to the creation of my own brand, Aligarve. I don’t use sprays or chemicals, compost what I can and my food is grown from organic seeds sourced here in Portugal or from my own stock. I use recycled jars and bottles where I can, replacing the lids.
I try to use all Portuguese ingredients. We have a wonderful organic farm shop in Tavira if I need anything I haven’t grown yet like ginger or turmeric.
My produce changes with the seasons and what the garden produces, it is important to me to eat when produce is in season. We have extended the vege patch and plan to grow more. I have just planted some pepper to try as well as passion fruit, paw paw and a loofah for fun. I have lots of plans for pickles and preserves this year as the crops ripen. My sweet chili sauce has been a real hit and I will try to keep a supply of this year-round. Nature intended us to eat certain fruits and veg at certain times of the year and not to interfere with her calendar and that is how I run my business.
So, there you have it! Seasonal goods made at the right time of year and not when we fancy strawberries in December because it goes against the grain. Alison is constantly adding to her repertoire and I can personally vouch for the spicy jam and lemon butter cookies.
To see the full range of produce, visit Alison’s website. I can’t wait for her newly added Worcestershire sauce. Alison said what a great addition to shepherds pie but I was thinking more along the Bloody Mary lines…