Fortnum and Mason to stock award-winning Norfolk marmalade

Ali Wilder of award winning, Season's Bounty, Norfolk preserves in her kitchen. Pictures: Brittany W

Ali Wilder of award winning Season's Bounty Norfolk preserves in her kitchen. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

“The first labels I did for my jars, I quite literally just printed off my computer and stuck them on with Pritt Stick, so we are talking fairly basic,” laughs Ali Wilder as she recalls preparing for her first farmers’ market. 

Fast forward to now and her traditionally-made jams and marmalades have won more than 40 awards – and two varieties are about to be stocked in one of the world’s best known gastronomic destinations: the food hall at Fortnum and Mason. 

Ali Wilder of award winning, Season's Bounty, Norfolk preserves. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Ali loves to use produce from her allotment and foraged from hedgerows - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Ali can’t wait to see her Season’s Bounty Lemon and Norfolk Lavender and Lemon and Vanilla marmalades nestling alongside the other gourmet delights.  

Is she planning on taking a shelfie? 

“You bet I am,” she says. “I’ve actually got to go to London in the middle of next month, so I’m going to make sure I make a little detour to Fortnum’s and take a couple of pictures for my Instagram. I’m over the moon.”  

Ali has always loved baking and cooking (“It was in my DNA,” she says), particularly making preserves from home-grown and foraged produce, just like her mother.  

Season's Bounty, awarding winning Norfolk preserves. Lime marmalade being made. Pictures: Brittany W

Lime Marmalade being made - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Her family, however, weren’t quite so enthusiastic about the fruits of her labour, “and I would end up giving most of them away,” she says. 

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But on a trip to a local farmers’ market she had what she describes as a “lightbulb moment” and Season’s Bounty was born. 

“In 2008 I left my job at Norwich Union and became a self-employed gardener,” she says.   

“One day I was at Loddon Farmers’ Market and there was somebody there selling jams, marmalades and chutneys from their own little smallholding and I thought hang on, I wonder if I could sell some of mine, to supplement my gardening. 

“To my surprise and joy they sold well and people came back for more. It then meant that I had to start cutting back on my gardening to make more preserves and it just got to the point where I had to make a decision: am I a gardener, or am I a preserve maker?” 

Ali decided to take the latter route and with the encouragement of her now-husband (“I wouldn’t be where I am now if it hadn’t been for his help and support”) she became a full-time preserve maker around 2013.  

Season's Bounty, awarding winning Norfolk preserves. Sour Black Cherry Jam, with Kirsch. Pictures: B

Season's Bounty's Sour Black Cherry Jam, with Kirsch. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

As well as selling her products at local markets and events, she started to gain bricks and mortar stockists too. 

She loves to experiment and be creative with flavour combinations and keeps records of all her preserves.  

Leafing back through her batch book for 2014, she was already being adventurous – that year her culinary repertoire included Seville Marmalade, Stem Ginger Marmalade, Seville and Whisky Marmalade, Pink Grapefruit and Cranberry, Blood Orange and Gin and Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam.  

She also made chutneys, but dropped them for a while to concentrate on marmalade and jam – however she has brought a couple of varieties back due to demand.  

She currently has plentiful rhubarb on her allotment, which will go into her Rhubarb and Date Chutney and she will also use her own beetroot and courgettes later in the season. 

Ali makes her preserves in small batches in the kitchen of her Norwich home.  

When we speak, Paddington Bear would be in heaven. She’s got Lime Marmalade and Seville Marmalade bubbling away on the hob. Later on she’ll be making strawberry jam.

You start craving a slice of toast just thinking about it.  

She uses traditional open pans and chops all the ingredients by hand.  

“I find it strangely therapeutic,” says Ali. “I love the simplicity of it. With something as simple as oranges or lemons, you can make them into this lovely concoction that you just want to eat until the cows come home.  

“It’s the magic of preserves. The three elements – the fruit, the sugar and the pectin all become this wonderful gelled preserve that people just love.” 

Her summer is spent stocking the freezers with as much fruit as she can to see her through to the next year. What isn’t grown locally is sourced through local wholesalers. 

“We’re almost back to getting local strawberries,” she says. “I tend to use Sharrington’s quite a lot – I get my tayberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries from them. And all my blueberries come from Fairgreen. A lot of the fruit is foraged – such as blackberries, damsons and mirabelles.” 

You’ll also find some local additions, such as Norfolk Lavender and Norfolk Gin. 

“Getting as much of my produce locally as I can is important to me,” she says.

“And foraging is a lovely excuse to get out into the fresh air and the countryside. I’m a country girl at heart.” 

Season's Bounty, awarding winning Norfolk preserves. Lime marmalade. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Ali Wilder's Season's Bounty Lime Marmalade - Credit: Brittany Woodman

She estimates that Season’s Bounty has won more than 40 awards.  

Her first was a gold at the World Original Marmalade Awards – and she has won at least one gold there every year since.  

This year was a stellar year - her Old Fashioned Seville Marmalade won a silver award, her Breakfast Marmalade and Lemon and Norfolk Lavender Marmalade won gold and her Lemon and Vanilla Marmalade won the highly coveted double gold award.  

She has also won Great Taste Awards and Great British Food Awards. 

Ali Wilder of award winning, Season's Bounty, Norfolk preserves. Ali in her kitchen making Lime marm

Ali Wilder prepping fruit for her Season's Bounty Lime Marmalade - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Some of Ali’s more “off the wall” and creative flavour combinations include her Seville and Sea Buckthorn Marmalade, Sour Black Cherry and Kirsch Jam and her limited-edition Blackcurrant and Violet Jam. 

“Sometimes I quite literally dream them up,” she laughs.   

Season’s Bounty preserves are available at stockists across Norfolk and Waveney including St Giles Pantry in Norwich, White House Farm at Sprowston, The Galley at Horning, Earsham Street Deli in Bungay, Bailey’s Deli in Beccles and The Norfolk Deli in Hunstanton. Ali also supplies the Beechwood Hotel in North Walsham and has a stall at Beccles Farmers’ Market on the first Saturday of the month. 

To find out more visit seasons-bounty.co.uk and follow on Instagram @seasons_bounty   

Five favourite flavours 

Old Fashioned Seville Marmalade 
“The Old Fashioned Seville uses a mixture of white sugar and brown sugar, so it’s dark, it’s rich, it’s treacly and it’s just sublime,” says Ali. “It tends to be the one I refer to as my chap’s marmalade – the blokes tend to like the darker one.” 

Strawberry and Rose Jam 
Norfolk strawberries meet delicate rose, reminiscent of Turkish delight. 

Sicilian Blood Orange Marmalade 
“This is sweet and lush,” says Ali. “It’s always popular with the people who don’t enjoy a bitter orange like the Seville is.” 

Raspberry and Passionfruit Jam 
The addition of passionfruit puree takes the breakfast table staple to a whole new level. 

Clementine and Lemon Marmalade 
A silver medal winner. “The combination of sweet clementines with sharp lemons works so well,” says Ali.