Fearne & Rosie - a new brand of healthier, lower sugar jams
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 May 2018
You don't have to overload on sugar to enjoy a sweet treat
Fearne & Rosie
Fearne and Rosie hard at work in the kitchen
Rosie dips into the jam during a break from baking
Crushing Rice Crispies is hard work
Rosie believes jam is best straight from the jar
Have we got it right? Fearne and Rosie attempt banana footprints
Messy business making banana footprints
Mum Rachel helps out with the finishing touches to banana footprints
Fearne, chief taster, at work
Veggue pasta sauce and sweet potato muffins are served
Fearne Kettlewell is the perfect interviewee. She’s friendly, funny, chatty and answers every question you throw at her. She also shows you her favourite dinosaur, shares her best crayons for a spot of impromptu colouring and gives you a big purple tick in your notebook if you write something nicely. ‘My daddy works at the jam village. He has two offices upstairs and a blue floor. We make lovely jam with less sugar in it. And, do you know what, it really is really lovely jam.’
Three-year-old Fearne is the chief taste-tester, along with her sister Rosie (the junior partner at just 18 months), at Fearne & Rosie, a new brand of healthier, lower sugar jams, ketchup and veggie pasta sauce (aka all the things that kids love) handmade in the Yorkshire Dales. ‘Fearne will eat pretty much anything you put in front of her, but Rosie is a trickier customer,’ said their mum, Rachel. ‘If she thinks something is yummy, I know it’s a winner.’
Rachel created the Fearne & Rosie brand while on two bouts of maternity leave in two years from her part-time teaching job in Richmond. She finally launched her first products in January this year, with the help of her husband Drew and his family business, Raydale Preserves (i.e. daddy’s jam village). ‘I first mentioned the idea of a no-added sugar range about 10 years ago, but nothing came of it because we were both too busy,’ she said. ‘If I’m honest, I really wanted a sugar-free range but I soon learned that you can’t actually make jam without it.’
As a teacher, Rachel knows only too well the problems youngsters face if they’re not encouraged to make positive dietary choices, but it wasn’t until she had children herself that she realised how tricky it can be to feed hungry kids quickly and healthily. ‘It’s important to me that we eat together as a family, but sometimes it’s just not possible,’ she said. ‘When I’ve got time, I like to batch cook from scratch and get loads of healthy stuff sorted for us, but sometimes I just need to grab a jar of something tasty and quick. If your kids are really hungry, you just need to feed them.’
After a lot of kitchen experimentation, removing as much sugar as possible without affecting the flavour and set of the jam, the first Fearne & Rosie strawberry and blackcurrant preserves are now available in either ‘super smooth’ or ‘juicy bits’ varieties. While most jams on the market are at least 60 percent sugar (usually more), Rachel’s has around 42 percent.
Her veggie pasta sauce is packed with tomatoes, carrots, red peppers, onions, courgettes and only 6.8g of sugar and 0.03g of salt (per 100g), while her tomato ketchup has 50 per cent less sugar and 90 per cent less salt than the average brands. And no junk whatsoever in anything, ever. ‘We’d all like to think that our children will eat healthy foods all day every day, but sometimes they just don’t fancy broccoli,’ said Rachel.
‘We have to be realistic; children love jam and tomato ketchup and pasta. They’re going to eat them, so why not make them as healthy as we can?
‘I want people to be able to trust Fearne & Rosie; to pick up our jars without having to search the ingredients list for junk because it’ll never be there. I’d never claim we’re producing health foods, but we are definitely producing healthier foods.’
In the same way that the flavours are designed to tempt young palettes, the bright, colourful branding of two little girls in front of a house on a hill has been created to attract tots and their parents.
‘It actually started out as a bit of doodling,’ said Rachel. ‘I’ve always scribbled a little house on a hill, little knowing that one day I’d actually be living in one.’
She had initially hoped to get her products into 10 shops in her first year, but smashed that target within the first month, with Fearne & Rosie jars now lining the shelves at Cannon Hall Farm Shop, Wensleydale Creamery as well as Drewton’s Farm Shop among others.
Rachel already has plans to expand the range, with a bolognaise sauce on its way this summer and a raspberry jam later in the year, and is constantly working on new recipe ideas to make the most of her original lines. ‘It’s not really enough to just make the products; I think it’s important to give parents ideas of how to use them to make a range of quick, healthy meals,’ she said. ‘If you use half a jar of our veggie pasta sauce for tea one day, you can use the rest for simple wholemeal pizzas or veggie muffins the next.’
While she’s undoubtedly very busy developing her business while teaching two days a week, Rachel is still relishing her time at home in her not-so-little house on the hill with her two favourite girls. ‘They inspire me all the time,’ she said, watching Fearne arrange her dinosaurs into families and Rosie draw elaborate brown squiggles on a piece of paper. ‘This is all for them; something for them to be proud of when they’re older.’