Tucked away in an Edwardian farmhouse just off Richmond’s Dyke Road is a small, cozy kitchen.
A curious child occasionally peeks in from the outside, just to be met with a warm invite to join London Farm’s jam-maker as she stirs up the latest batch.
The Richmond News spent a sunny afternoon with jam-maker Susan Hayhoe while she made blueberry rhubarb preserve.
Hayhoe came to London Farm six years ago with decades of jam-making experience under her belt - or her in jar, if you will.
She was first drawn into the world of jam-making after discovering blackberry bushes on the side of the road, and soon enough, she started selling jam at local craft fairs.
At the heart of Hayhoe’s homemade jam are local fruits and produce, most of which come from friends and family.
“People know that I’ll do something with it, so they’ll call me and tell me, ‘We’ve got grapes and figs and things like that,’” she said.
Armed with her big pot sourced from a local thrift store, Hayhoe makes an average of 50 jars whenever she pops by the farm kitchen. Her personal best record was 65 jars in one day.
Jam is one of London Farm’s best-selling souvenirs, and demand for it never faltered even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hayhoe, who expected the farm to stop ordering jam at the time, told the News she was “amazed” when she was told to keep making more.
‘I like doing them all.’
Hayhoe’s routine is simple and perfected after decades of experience — she would prepare the fruits at home and bring them to the farm, pour them into the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and stir the bubbling jam while sterilizing the jars.
The trick to consistency is to use pectin, she told the News, and adding a bit of olive oil can also prevent the mixture from boiling over.
She told the News she has made all kinds of jam-making faux pas over the years, including forgetting to add sugar and having jars of jam shatter over her carpet.
Her advice to beginners? “Just carefully follow the directions,” said Hayhoe.
Although she tends to avoid making crabapple jam due to the difficulty of cleaning the fruit, Hayhoe loves all jam recipes equally.
“I like doing them all,” she said.
“That’s what I liked about cooking. You can do so many different things. You don’t have to do the same thing over and over.”
Hayhoe told the News her original plan was to work at the farm for at least five years. Now that she has surpassed that goal, she’s hoping to mingle more with the community by putting on a jam-making demonstration.
“… This kitchen is kind of small for too many people, but still, I’d be glad to. That would be really fun.”