Annie Koshy spreads a thick layer of her home-made Java Plum jam on a piece of toast and proffers it to me. “This is our latest flavour. I hope you like it”, she says. Annie founded Sugar and Spice with her daughter Sapna Koshy in October 2017 and now sells seven flavours of jams, marmalades, preserves and fruit butters. I admire the bright purple jam on the crisp toast before biting into it. It is sweet with a fresh flavour of ripe jamuns.
While Annie makes the products, Sapna markets them. “My father passed away last year and my mother had a hard time coping with the loss. I wanted to engage her in something to help her move on. She used to make banana jam when I was a child so I asked her to make some for me. She did and it was an instant hit with my friends,” recalls Sapna. Soon, they started to receive more orders and requests for other flavours.
About the products Sapna says that they experiment and scour the net for recipes. Now their menu boasts of flavours such as Banana Rum, Orange Cinnamon, Pineapple Ginger, Strawberry, Apple Cinnamon, Mango Jalapeno and Java Plum.
They agree that not all experiments went right.“One of our customers wanted a bottle of Pineapple Ginger jam with palm sugar as a substitute to white sugar. The jam turned was a dirty brown and tasted weird. We had no other choice but to dispose it”, says Sapna. She says that the combination of two different flavours (sweet and spice) in most of their products makes them popular.
They make their products in small batches on order and buy their raw materials from local stores. It is two days of work to make a batch. The first day is for cleaning and cutting the fruits and the second is for preparation and packaging. Annie says that it takes her up to six hours to get the required consistency. She uses 250 ml glass bottles for packaging and they are sterilised before being filled. “Orange Cinnamon Marmalade is the most difficult to make. The white inner lining of the fruit peel has to be scraped off before cutting it into fine pieces. Even though it is hard to make, that is our favourite”, smiles Annie.
She makes Banana Rum fruit butter with Palayankodan bananas sourced from her farm in Kerala. “It gives a rich reddish-brown colour to the fruit butter. It goes well as a spread over your toast or with roti. There are a number of possibilities for our products. Apple Cinnamon can go as a filling for pies while Java Plum can either be used as a spread or be made into juice by mixing it with water. Mango Jalapeno tastes best as a dip for your chips, as a salad dressing or even as a marinade for meat,” explains Annie.
“Our products contain no added colours, artificial preservatives, flavours or thickening agents. The only preservatives that go into our products are sugar and lime”, Sapna claims. Her products have a shelf life of three months if refrigerated and 10 days if not.
On request they also customise their products using sugar substitutes. “It is for people with diabetes and these jams must be consumed within three days of it’s making.”
The mother and daughter are also working on a range of non-vegetarian pickles that they will introduce soon. Says Sapna, “We will soon do a quality and nutrition assessment test for our products and are in the process of setting up a Sugar and Spice website and will also launch the products online.”