“Kate has always made jam and I've always been keen to make rather than buy as much as possible,” says Alex Paduano, creative director and one half of The Jam Bandits. He’s talking about his partner in crime Kate Schlunke, culinary director. “We were both aware of a growing number of people who were making their own produce within the community, whether it be bread, pickles or wine, and we wanted to contribute in our own way.”[fold]
For both Paduano and Schlunke (an architect and an art teacher respectively), knowing the story behind each product they buy is an important part of supporting a community and being mindful of food and its production.
“Just as we know the baker who bakes our bread and where our muesli comes from (Farmer Jo is a neighbour) we wanted people to know the story behind their jam, where it's come from and what went into it.” The result is The Jam Bandits, a popular fixture at the monthly Surry Hills Market, as well as a locally focused online store for everything spreadable in a jar. Think mixed berry and lavender or peach and rosemary jam, as well as salted caramel and ‘peanutella’. The jams and spreads that they specialise in are delightfully seasonal, which means the duo can experiment with different varieties and draw inspiration from what’s available.
“Winter is great for all kinds of citrus fruit so marmalades are perfect this time of year. We recently got a whole heap of lemons from Kate's 99-year-old great grandmother, which we are experimenting with. We've also just come into rhubarb season, which we're very excited about.”
Taste and texture both play a big part in creating the perfect spread, but there’s a certain amount of intuition that goes into each jar as well. “More than anything, just use your senses. If it looks good, smells good and tastes good, then you're onto a winner,” says Paduano. “Have fun with it! It's not an overly complicated process, make sure you get the fundamentals down and then feel free to be a bit adventurous with your flavours.”
For now, The Jam Bandits are a busy jam-making duo you can find at the Surry Hills Markets each month, but keep an eye out for more market appearances around Sydney soon, as well as the promise of finding their spreads in some local cafes. And with the DIY ethos in mind, here’s The Jam Bandit nine-step recipe for perfect winter marmalade.
Netta's Orange & Lemon Marmalade
Named for Kate's 99-year-old great grandmother and her generous lemon tree.
• 8 oranges
• 4 lemons
*Note: it should be 2kg of fruit in total
• 2kg brown sugar
• 2 large sprigs rosemary
1. Cut oranges and lemons into very small crescents. Place in to a large heavy-bottomed pot.
Cut rosemary leaves finely and add to the pot.
Bring all the ingredients to the boil and then reduce heat and simmer gently for two hours.
Test the setting-point by placing a small amount of marmalade on a cold spoon and putting it in the freezer for 4 minutes. Nudge it with you finger; if it wrinkles, it’s ready. If this does not occur, simmer for a bit longer and re-test.
Once the marmalade has reached setting point, it is ready to be jarred.
To sterilise the jars, first heat the oven to 140 degrees C. Thoroughly wash jars in hot soapy water then place in the oven for 10 minutes to dry.
Important Note:* Always fill hot jars with hot jam and cold jars with cold jam. Otherwise you risk cracking or shattering the jars.
Fill jars up with the marmalade, leaving 1cm of air space at the top, leave to settle for 5 minutes before securing the lids. Store in a cool, dark cupboard and refrigerate once opened.