Strawberry and champagne. Blackcurrant and Irish stout. Gooseberry and elderflower. Connemara Irish whiskey heather marmalade. They might only be the names of jams, but to me it practically sounds like poetry. They’re also just some of the 80+ products made by hand by Crossogue Preserves.
Veronica Molloy came to making preserves in a roundabout way. Born and raised in Kenya, she then trained as a nurse in England. It was her marriage to her husband, Tony, in 1967 that brought her to Ireland and to Crossogue House, which her husband inherited from a bachelor uncle. When they first moved there it was a mixed farm. Tony milked cows and sheep, they had many different crops, including sugar beet, and a walled garden with lots of fruit trees (these days, Crossogue House is an equestrian centre run by Veronica’s son). That garden would be the key to what would become Veronica’s business, Crossogue Preserves. Faced with such abundance from her own garden, Veronica’s mother-in-law, Nancy, taught her how to make preserves, and to this day, any new products are still based on those basic family recipes handed down through the generations.
“It all began by accident really,” Veronica says. “Having a large vegetable and fruit garden and six children, I began to make preserves at home and sell them at the local country markets. I won some prizes for my preserves and then local shops started showing an interest in purchasing my product. It snowballed from there.”
Veronica now has five employees, but her jams, jellies, chutneys, curds and marmalade are all still made by hand in small batches of twenty jars. Making things in such small quantities is important to Veronica, as she believes that when you start making batches in the hundreds of jars, you sacrifice taste. This dedication to quality has paid off — Crossogue Preserves has won numerous awards and is the supplier of preserves to the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Powerscourt, County Wicklow.
Photo courtesy of Crossogue Preserves
Just as Veronica’s mother-in-law taught her how to make preserves, Veronica travelled to Tanzania in 2007 and again in 2009 as part of a group of 40 with the Playing for Life charity, where she in turn taught 14 women to preserve the fruits and vegetables that were in season there at the time, such as mangoes, passion fruit, pineapple, bananas, tomatoes and chillies. “I have been getting great reports that the Tanzanian women are still happily making and selling their preserves,” she says.
You can find Crossogue Preserves in all the Avoca, Kilkenny Design and Butler’s Pantry shops as well as select gift shops, victuallers and delicatessens around Ireland, including over 20 outlets in County Tipperary. You can also check their website or keep up with them on Facebook for updates of food festivals or events they’ll be at around the country. They also supply the US, Brussels and Finland and are currently looking into the UK market.
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